Unsaid, a novel written by Neil Abramson, beautifully examines the relationships between humans and animals, between heaven and earth, between husband and wife . . . whether you accept the depth of the relationships he writes about, the story is a journey worth taking. Dramatic and intriguing, the message speaks of dealing with grief, letting go of the old, becoming involved, and building a new life.
Helena, a veterinarian, had spent her life tending to animals and as such, she’d euthanized more animals than she cares to think about. When she dies from cancer, her spirit is stuck, afraid to move on. Afraid to face the souls of those animals and afraid that her life had been wasted and meaningless.
I imagined a thousand beautiful, innocent little eyes glaring at me, judging, accusing, and detailing my failures.I didn’t do enough for them, those eyes would say; I wasn’t good enough. Or perhaps I gave up too soon. Or maybe, for some, I kept them alive too long when they were in pain–a mere shadow of their former selves–only because that is what someone else wanted for them.
She returns in spirit, afraid to leave behind her attorney husband, David, who’s struggling to cope with the loss. And afraid for the animals she’s leaving behind with him. During their life together he’d tolerated her love for animals, but didn’t posses the ability to connect with them himself.
David goes back to work and tries to put his life back together. The situations that arise along that long and lonely road all serve their purpose in the end. As you read, you’ll be able to experience the feelings of each and every character, Sally and her son Clifford, Max, Jaycee, Joshua and even Cindy the chimpanzee.
Animals cannot communicate like humans can, but they speak to us in countless ways and we do understand them. Their language is simply . . . UNSAID.
The characters are numerous and each, in their own way, play and important part of the story. They all have their own personal burdens to bear, failures to overcome, secrets to share and goals to achieve. You’ll be swept along quickly as their lives intertwine with each other. Some of them you’ll love immediately and some you’ll dislike just as quickly.
Neil Abramson manages to get you pulled into the story before you realize what has happened. The realization hits you when a tear runs down your cheek. Your emotions run the gamut from happy to sad to mad and everywhere in between. The story never stayed too long on one subject, and you’ll be anxious to read what’s coming up.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the story was the trial when the fate of the chimpanzee, Cindy, was at stake. The scientific parts of the trial were particularly hard to follow but you could easily read between the lines. During the trial David learns that Helena and Jaycee were involved in animal experiments during college that changed midstream and went against all they believed in. Helena hopes that David will win the case, save Cindy and she will then be forgiven for her sins. Animal Rights for primates was highlighted in the trial which was both eye opening and deplorable.
If you believe an animal is only a possession, this book isn’t for you. However, if you believe an animal has feelings, is capable of giving love and communicating through actions then this is a definite a “must read.” When you run out to purchase the book, make sure you also pick up a box of Kleenex.
A partner in a Manhattan law firm, author Neil Abramson lives in Westchester County, NY and is married to a veterinarian. He is also a past board member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an award recipient from the ASPCA for his legal work on behalf of animals, and a founding member of the New York City Bar Association Committee on Legal Issues Relating to Animals. UNSAID is his first novel, and he’s donating part of the proceeds of the book to Finally Home, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt animal organization dedicated to establishing a sanctuary for lost, abused, and abandoned animals in southern New York State.