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Everything We Didn't Say

A Novel

About The Book

From the author of Little Broken Things, a race-to-the-finish family drama” (People) following a mother who must confront the dark summer that changed her life forever in order to reclaim the daughter she left behind.

Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June’s world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa.

Until now. Officially, she’s back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she’s returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who’s been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since birth—and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that’s haunted her for nearly fifteen years.

As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it’s her daughter’s life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time? Baart once again brilliantly weaves mystery into family drama in this expertly-crafted novel for fans of Lisa Jewell and Megan Miranda.

Reading Group Guide

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. At the beginning of Everything We Didn’t Say, Juniper pulls into Jericho and we see the small town through her eyes. What can you infer about her childhood and her complicated connection to her hometown in these first few pages?

2. Juniper’s relationship with her mother is fraught to say the least. Rebecca makes her feel exiled from Jericho and un- worthy of a meaningful relationship with her own daughter. But on page 324 Reb refutes that belief by explaining why she pushed Juniper away: “Don’t you see? I saved you. I wasn’t going to let you repeat my mistakes.” What do you think? Was Juniper banished? Or did Reb save her by ensuring that she went to college, finished her degree, and led a successful, independent life?

3. Fatherhood also plays an important role in Everything We Didn’t Say. Juniper never knew her biological father, and her stepfather was often stiff and aloof. How do you think this affects her as both a teen and a grown woman?

4. They say that opposites attract and that’s certainly true in Everything We Didn’t Say. Lawrence and Rebecca and Sullivan and June are a couple of obvious mismatches. What makes their relationships work? Or do you think they were doomed from the start? Are there other unexpected pairings?

5. When they were teenagers, June knew that her best friend, Ashley, had a significant crush on Sullivan. Still, June allows herself to fall in love with him. Do you think her actions are unforgivable or understandable?

6. When talking with Cora, teenage June wonders: “What are Jericho’s ideals?” Cora says: “Community. Family. Faith.” June counters: “Tradition. Uniformity. Compliance.” Who do you agree with? Why?

7. Although the specifics of the situation surrounding the Tate and Murphy feud are fictional, there truly are more than 750 impaired waterways in Iowa alone (meaning they fail to meet state requirements for supporting aquatic insects, fishing, swimming, or boating). And the United States is crisscrossed with bodies of water that do not meet pollution control standards. Do you think enough is being done to keep our environment clean? Why or why not? How should we balance agriculture and industry with environmental concerns?

8. Willa isn’t sure what to do with her mother when Juniper returns, and Juniper doesn’t know how to act like a real mom. What do you think Juniper could have/should have done differently? Do you think her absence is understand- able and forgivable? Explain.

9. In chapter 11, adult Juniper finds herself in the Murphy’s old coop during a snowstorm with Sullivan. They embrace, and he kisses her. How does this interaction make you feel? Can you forgive them for their indiscretion?

10. Talk about Juniper’s relationship with Jonathan. How did it change over the years? Do you think Jonathan should have come clean about the Murphys and the Tates to Juniper when they were teenagers? How do you think that might have affected things?

11. People sometimes do inexplicable things for love, and the characters in Everything We Didn’t Say are no different. Talk about this in relation to Law, Reb, Jonathan, Juniper, and Sullivan. Do you think their actions were justified? Why or why not?

12. In the first chapter we read: “Maybe it was all her [Juniper’s] fault that a killer in Jericho walked free.” At the end of the book we learn that Juniper, Jonathan, and Sullivan all kept secrets about that night. Do you think their deceit was justified? Do you think it would have changed anything if they came clean right away?

13. Juniper wants Willa to have a relationship with her father and she’s determined to make it work. Do you think that there’s hope for Willa and Sullivan? How do you think Ash- ley will react? How would you like to see their story end?

14. How much do you believe Reb knew about the night that Cal and Beth were killed? Do you think she suspected (and covered up for) her husband? Give evidence to support your beliefs.

15. Everything We Didn’t Say is told in alternating viewpoints (June as a teenager and Juniper as an adult). In some ways, these are opposite and opposing perspectives: summer and winter; beginning and end; innocent and jaded; unknowing and worldly wise. Discuss the differences in Juniper, past and present. How does she change? How does she stay the same? Do you like June or Juniper better? Why?

About The Author

Photograph by Aaron Baart

Nicole Baart is the author of eleven novels, including Everything We Didn’t Say and The Long Way Back. The cofounder of a nonprofit and mother of five, she lives in Iowa with her family. Learn more at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (November 2, 2021)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982115098

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Raves and Reviews

"Nicole Baart skillfully blends suspense and family drama like no one else. Everything We Didn’t Say is an atmospheric barn-burner that jumps from past to present in an Iowa farm community rife with secrets, simmering grudges, and an unsolved murder. I was utterly enthralled."—Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters

“Nicole Baart is a master of crafting family dramas around a compelling mystery, and in Everything We Didn’t Say she expertly weaves past and present into a journey to the truth of a decades-old murder case. Creepy and atmospheric, with vivid and emotional prose, this slow-burn will have you thinking twice about the people you know.” Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of Dear Wife and Stranger in the Lake

"With finely crafted characters, smooth-as-butter writing, and a breathless plot, Nicole Baart’s latest kept me up long into the night, turning pages. The past is alive in this book, and I found myself wholly caught up in Juniper’s intricate, surprising story as she returns home to find lost loves, lost causes, and some terrifying truths lying in wait. I’m a long-time fan of Baart, but this may be my favorite yet!" —Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Never Have I Ever

“In the small town of Jericho, the past is better left alone – even when a double murder remains unsolved, casting shadows on a family that has been torn apart for over fourteen years. Weaving together past and present, Everything We Didn’t Say is a poignant, riveting tale about love, loyalty and secrets that will sink into your bones and leave you breathless!” –Wendy Walker, bestselling author of Don’t Look for Me

"Everything We Didn’t Say brims with Nicole Baart’s signature hallmarks–complex characters, tangled family dynamics, and, as always, beautiful writing. A multifaceted page-turner with intricate twists and turns, Baart has delivered a captivating read from first page to last!" —Susan Meissner, USA Today bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things

"Combining high wire tension and poetic storytelling, in Everything We Didn’t Say Baart has created a haunting family drama that casts a glaring light on small-town hierarchies proving that the past has a long, unrelenting reach. Told in dual timelines, this suspenseful, beautifully rendered novel reveals its secrets in small, tantalizing bites leading to an explosive, highly satisfying conclusion. Everything We Didn’t Say is Baart at her best." —Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence

“A woman returns to her Iowa hometown to face her past, reclaim her family, and solve the cold-case murders that abruptly ended her childhood. Memory collides with consequence in this perfectly paced mystery and clear-eyed ode to America’s heartland. I loved everything about this book. Nicole Baart is a master storyteller.” —Mindy Mejia, author of Everything You Want Me To Be and Strike Me Down

"Nicole Baart dazzles once more in this haunting family saga about the danger of uncovering hard truths. Expertly plotted, Everything We Didn't Say delivers a satisfying ending you won’t see coming. Add this to your TBR immediately!" —Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, authors of How To Save a Life

"Dark family secrets, the spark of never-forgotten romance and an unsolved double murder from the past, pitting landowners against landowners. The elements in Nicole Baart’s latest novel combine seamlessly to provide the atmospheric tension of a crime story and the emotional depth of a family drama. Meticulously plotted and beautifully written." —KELLY SIMMONS, international selling author of One More Day and Not My Boy

“Riveting. Filled with secrets upon secrets and sumptuous foreboding, Everything We Didn’t Say is the perfect intersection of past and present, mystery and revelation, love, longing, and the weathered ties that bind. Every book of Baart’s is a gem. This one sparkles with equal parts menace and beauty. I absolutely loved it.” —TOSCA LEE, New York Times bestselling author of The Line Between

"The suspense sneaks up on you as you read this beautifully crafted novel, and seeps into your bones like a chilly winter day in Iowa. Nicole Baart’s latest explores memory and loss, as well as the redemptive power of second chances. I loved it." —Kaira Rouda, USA Today Bestselling author of Best Day Ever and The Next Wife

“Packed with intrigue, suspicion, and plot twists, Baart’s novel of familial ties, betrayals, and long-overdue confrontations should keep any Paula Hawkins, Mary Kubica, or Janelle Brown fan satisfied.” Booklist (starred review)

“[A] lyrical suspense novel… Baart delivers enough twists not to disappoint as she movingly evokes love and innocence lost. This delayed coming-of-age story will have broad appeal.”Publishers Weekly

"Everything We Didn't Say is an eerie and intriguing page-turner that explores family dynamics, crime, and how hard it is to keep secrets in a small rural town. Highly recommended for readers of Megan Miranda and Lisa Jewell, this is the perfect fall mystery to curl up with by the fire!" —Off the Shelf

Everything We Didn’t Say is suspenseful and smart…unputdownable and heart-stopping.” —Mystery and Suspense Magazine

“Baart is an accomplished storyteller. She excels at layering concurrent plot threads, character arcs, and suspense with layer upon layer of storied detail . . . She builds her world character by character and sets them in motion to behave as they will.”
—New York Jounral of Books

"Baart is a master storyteller . . . . poignant and bittersweet."
—Library Journal

"This riveting book was gripping from start to finish."
—FIRST for Women

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