The Story That Cannot Be Told
by J. Kasper Kramer
Ileana loves to collect stories, and she has a very large number to share. The issue is that stories can be dangerous where she lives. Her uncle has experienced this first hand as he’s been missing since the publication of one of his stories. Now, when the family’s safety is put at risk in Bucharest, they send Ileana away to live with her grandparents for a time. Here Ileana discovers that there’s so much she never knew.
The setting is Communist Romania in the late 1980s. It’s such a difficult time with food rationing, unrest and low living standards in general. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about this time period in Romania, nor did my kids. The book is both educational and entertaining— woven with folklore in between what’s happening in real time. We never lost interest and my kids were literally buried in their books. It’s beautifully crafted with wonderful characters and storytelling.
Personally, I enjoyed the story very much and decided on a 4-star rating, whereas the kids were a solid 5-stars —no questions asked. Some of the content was a little more complex, but it didn’t faze them. We looked forward to reading it daily. We read physical hardcovers and also enjoyed the audio along with the book.
The Story That Cannot Be Told is tense at times and also full of emotion, but funny too. It has also inspired me and my children to read more historical fiction. I recommend it for middle-graders, adults with an interest, and anyone who loves a good story.
- Age Range: 8 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 – 7
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (October 8, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1534430687
- ISBN-13: 978-1534430686
A middle grade debut that weaves together folklore and history to tell the story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.
Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to make room for his golden palace; back when families had enough food, and the hot water worked on more than just Saturday nights. Others are folktales like the one she was named for, which her father used to tell her at bedtime. But some stories can get you in trouble, like the dangerous one criticizing Romania’s Communist government that Uncle Andrei published—right before he went missing.
Fearing for her safety, Ileana’s parents send her to live with the grandparents she’s never met, far from the prying eyes and ears of the secret police and their spies, who could be any of the neighbors. But danger is never far away. Now, to save her family and the village she’s come to love, Ileana will have to tell the most important story of her life.
About the author:
J. Kasper Kramer is an author and English professor in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has a master’s degree in creative writing and once upon a time lived in Japan, where she taught at an international school. When she’s not curled up with a book, Kramer loves researching lost fairy tales, playing video games, and fostering kittens.