The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer – Book Review

  • Title: The Story That Cannot Be Told
  • Author: J. Kasper Kramer
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Release Date: October 8, 2019
  • Many thanks to Atheneum Books for Young Readers for providing me an opportunity to read the book early.


Ileana and her family live in Communist Romania in 1989, a perilous place for storytellers and rebels alike. When the family learns that they are in the crosshairs of the government’s secret service, they send Ileana to live with her grandparents in a remote village deep in the countryside. Yet, risk and danger follow on Ileana’s heels, forcing her to make decisions with potentially dire consequences.

J. Kasper Kramer’s The Story That Cannot be Told is a gripping tale that will engage students with its imaginative and bold perspective of a young heroine. The writing is nothing short than masterful, leaving its readers engrossed in a world both true and whimsical as the author weaves history with folktales. Ileana’s story is not only a must read; it is a must teach. It will challenge students to reconsider the stories they have been told and, like Ileana, contemplate the ones yet waiting to be told.

Classroom Applications

  • Unit – Teach the novel with this unit – The Story That Cannot Be Told Unit: Comprehensive Novel Study, incorporating literary and nonfiction analysis, extension activities, and projects.
  • Literature Circles – Use novel for small groups or choice reading for Cold War era books.
  • Project – If studying the Cold War in History class, use the novel as a project assignment.

Nonfiction Connections: The list below outlines topics that will enrich your students’ understanding of the novel.

  • Cold War
  • Soviet Bloc and Soviet Era
  • Folktales/Romanian Folktales
  • Romanian History and Culture

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with The Story That Cannot Be Told. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Story Structure, Themes)
  • Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Historical Content, Themes)
  • A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Historical Content, Themes)
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (Themes, Historical Connection)


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