There were so many reasons why I liked this book. The story was sincere and the characters were likable. The setting was quaint and unique. I think the biggest reason that I liked it so much was because I could relate to it.Jake and his family live on an island. You can’t get much more isolated than that. He comes from a big, loving family. Sam is fairly new to the community and has only her mom. They couldn’t be more different from a background stand point. One night and one stupid incident changes everything for both of them.The thing that I related to in this story was the sense of family that exists in the small, tight-knit community. Although we don’t live on an island, we do live on a fairly isolated peninsula and weekend parties involving alcohol among teens are common. The comment in the book about teens not having much else to do on weekends is something we hear all the time. Despite its downfalls, living in an area like this also gives you a sense of belonging and home that you don’t get living in a big city. Everyone pitches in to help someone in need and you not only know your neighbor, but the family that lives 2 streets down from you. I felt that sense of ‘home’ in this book. I’m not sure how people who aren’t used to that kind of interaction within a community relate to it, but the whole concept felt very natural to me.The fact that Jake comes from a family who instilled a strong sense of right and wrong in him and he still does something incredibly stupid is believable too. Even from Jake’s POV he pointed out that they all knew what they were doing was wrong, but they did it anyway. That is pretty much life as a teen. We’re probably all pretty lucky that we survived our teen years.What makes this story even more compelling is the fact that even though it is tragedy driven, there are lessons learned. Jake grows up a lot during the course of his senior year. He learns what it means to be different and he also learns to look at other people a whole new way. He falters, but it doesn’t last long. He grows to accept the help that he receives with a little more grace and he learns that there are people suffering a lot more than he is. Through all of his growing, his strength comes from Sam. Her story is even more heart breaking than Jake’s. I like the way they come together. It makes perfect sense.The other characters in the story are great. I love Jake’s parents. Their love and the love of Jake’s brothers and sisters is apparent. Their acceptance of Sam makes it even more evident that this is a loving family. One of the scenes that I love is when Jake’s mom yells at the principal for not calling them first before Jake talked to the police. That was such a mom thing to do. I actually cheered her on! I also like the no nonsense approach that the principal takes with Jake when he returns after the accident. His attitude toward him was just as someone would act having known him most of his life. Actually, most of the interactions in this book are believable and natural. Nothing seemed forced or far fetched.So basically, What I Didn’t Say is a great contemporary YA romance. Sam and Jake are good kids in bad situations, but they rise above it all and fall in love in the process. Lessons are learned, a couple of mysteries are solved and there are even a couple of bad guys to hate. A perfect summertime, weekend YA read.