Author: Trisha Leaver
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: April 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Contemporary Thriller
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Maddy and Ella are in a serious car accident. Only one survives. But which one? Ella’s body is alive, but her guilt drives her to pretend to be Maddy. As Ella navigates her perfect sister’s life, she finds the secrets Maddy kept hidden and must decide who she really is.
The story is compelling and draws you in right away. Ella wakes up in the hospital and believes that the wrong sister died, that everyone really wants Maddy to be alive and not Ella. So she resumes Maddy’s life and well, that is just never a good idea is it? The ideas and story are what drew me in. I enjoyed the questions it raises about siblings, even twins, sibling rivalry, identity and family love. There’s a lot to like in the book as Ella deals with a sister she thought she knew, and tries to act as Maddy. But of course it’s always much harder to do than you think it is.
Sadly, I didn’t care for Maddy or Ella. There wasn’t enough character development for me to really care about either girls, or their respective friends/boyfriends. Alex is seen through Ella’s eyes and her memories of what Maddy told her. Alex was a distant character for me, more told to me than experienced. Josh is a little better as he’s Ella’s best friend and has more interaction with Ella/Maddy. But even he didn’t get me too flustered. The only one I had a strong emotional reaction to was Jenna, Maddy’s best friend. But I didn’t buy that girl’s motivation or her flat ambition and awful actions.
I think the strongest thing about the book is the story itself, the decisions Ella/Maddy makes, the commentary on family dynamics and sibling rivalry. The ending isn’t very powerful or flooring, it’s not totally shocking or crazy. I liked that. It was realistic and hurtful, damaging and sad.
The Secrets We Keep is a good contemporary thriller that fans who like Gretchen McNeil will enjoy.
Rating 5 Okay