“Stark. Unflinchingly honest and filled with a type of determination that is seen in LGBTQ people who want more than just survival.”

Roland Emmerich

Director, Producer

“Joanne Vannicola weaves a compelling narrative about hardship, survival, and resilience that reminds all of us about the enduring importance of forgiveness, family acceptance, and love.”

Sarah Kate Ellis

President & CEO, GLAAD

“Joanne Vannicola’s ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is good, honest and powerful, and probably — no, definitely– going to save someone’s life.”

Norm Wilmer

NOW magazine


Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries.

 After being pressured to leave home at fourteen, and after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets.

Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say is a testament to survival, love, and the belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.

“What She Said” Radio Interview 105.9 The Region

Toronto International Festival of Authors: Celebrating Pride Month

In Depth Radio, Newstalk 1010, House Of Crouse

Toronto Star Excerpt

“What you need to know about “All We Knew But Couldn’t Say” is how brilliantly Joanne Vannicola says what couldn’t be said. She writes about mayhem and emotional violence with such precision that it’s like becoming mesmerized by a tornado moving directly towards you. Becoming an actor may have been Joanne Vannicola’s first step in avoiding the path of destructive forces heading her way. But it’s her writing that feels like a storm contained. This is a story you won’t soon forget.” 

David Layton


“Joanne unsparingly walks us through her childhood. From her abusive parents and a harrowingly self-destructive adolescence to an against all odds success as a performer. We anxiously cheer on that spark of joy in her that not only refuses to be snuffed out but flourishes to awareness and grace. I tore through this book in a fury, astounded by her resilience and inspired by her unerring belief in the power of love.”

Wendy Crewson

Actor, Producer

“Jo Vannicola’s memoir is shocking, upsetting and occasionally graphic, yet what sets it apart from other similar accounts is an underlying sense of optimism. Out of despair there has emerged a beautifully written account, where the author has not only come through the tribulations of her early life, but become a leading voice for the overlooked and the marginalised. I cannot recommend it enough.”

Linda Riley


In this moving memoir, Joanne Vannicola writes herself–and so many of us who have experienced oppression and trauma–onto the page. As a writer, I enjoyed her beautiful, well-paced and evocative storytelling. As a therapist and survivor, I found myself pausing and nodding as she articulated so well her deep and layered understandings of trauma and marginalization. Throughout, I found myself rooting for and cheering on the young girl, actor, activist, and woman of this story.

Farzana Doctor

This frank, sometimes harrowing, always inspiring memoir should be mandatory reading for all– for those afraid of being true to themselves or anyone who needs a hero who demonstrates that demonstrates what personal courage and determination can do. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!

Colin Mochrie

Comedian and Actor

“Joanne writes the way she lives— with heart and hope and honesty. A must read.”

Helen Shaver

“I am completely gutted by reading Joanne’s beautifully penned heart wrenching memoir. When every important relationship that shapes us is broken and lacking in nurturing love it stands as a testament to the power of becoming whole. Raw, unflinching, brave and important, it makes me grateful to know that a voice with this power and honesty is sharing her truth with us all.”

Cynthia Dale