I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha LeaverPublished by Farrar Straus and Giroux on April 28th 2015
Source: the publisher
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A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.
Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.
When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.
It took me two weeks to read this book and I’m honestly not sure why – I actually really enjoyed it! There were some frustrating moments, but there were also epic and heartbreaking moments, plus some crazy foreshadowing. The ending was a little predictable, but it hit me right in the feels.
Almost right away (within the first 5-7 pages), I knew I liked Ella more than Maddy and we hadn’t even really met Maddy yet and we barely knew Ella. But Ella talked about her love of B-rated horror movies, her dog and comfy jeans – all of which I can relate to! She went through a horrifying, traumatizing experience and made some major mistakes along the way, but I definitely think she learned her lesson and grew from it.
Again, we didn’t really get to meet Maddy – only through Ella’s eyes and only briefly before Ella “became” Maddy. So it’s hard to really know how I felt about Maddy. But from what we learned, it seemed like she was a good person who made bad mistakes that she regretted. She could have been a better sister and a better friend and she knew that. Given the chance to do it over, I think Maddy would have done the right thing the second time around. Or, at the very least, I think she would have apologized to all those she hurt.
I’m not sure how I feel about Alex. It seems like he did a lot of things out of true loyalty to Maddy, but it also felt like he worked really hard to get things back to normal because he didn’t want to rock the popularity boat. I think he wanted so badly for Maddy to be alive, he ignored some very obvious signs – signs that made it clear it was really Ella, not Maddy. But the more “Maddy” stopped acting like herself, the more he distanced himself from her and the more he drifted closer to Jenna – behavior that lost him most of the brownie points he earned during his “genuine” moments.
Speaking of, I couldn’t stand Jenna! She was mean and snobby and conniving, always looking down on others and actively seeking ways to make others feel bad about themselves. She even resorted to blackmail to get her way!
On the flip side, I adored Josh. I didn’t always like his attitude or the ultimatums he gave Ella – she was dealing with a LOT and, mourning or not, he could have been more supportive – but, overall, I really liked him and shipped him and Ella like crazy. They were just perfect for each other! And, of course, I loved the epilogue because of that!
I didn’t like nor dislike Kim, though she felt like an insubstantial character – like her only role was to make Josh unattainable when it was obvious that Ella and Josh were meant to be. She seemed nice, though, and she was kind to Ella when she was pretending to be Maddy. She also genuinely liked Josh, so I felt bit bad for her because it was clear that she’d never end up with him as long as Ella was around.
Another character I liked was Molly, though I would have liked to get to know her more. We mostly learned about her only in relation to Maddy and Jenna and everything that happened. Finally, I’m baffled by Maddy and Ella’s parents and their behavior – I thought parents of twins were supposed to be able to tell their kids apart? I think, deep down, they had a feeling, but with Ella doing her best to convince them otherwise and because they were in mourning, they just weren’t thinking/seeing things clearly and they just ignored that little voice that told them something wasn’t right.
Like I mentioned earlier, this book was just a bit predictable, for many reasons: There was major foreshadowing in the beginning of the book regarding the accident and how it would happen and why. There were a lot of hints dropped regarding the Molly thing. And the ending was pretty obvious, as well. Nothing ever really surprised or shocked me. But the predictability never took away from my overall enjoyment of the book or the “Aha!” moments when I got to those “reveals.”
Overall, this was a fun, though heavy and heartbreaking, book. I liked the characters and I liked seeing Ella’s growth and the way she learned from her mistakes. There was definitely a major Lying Game vibe to this book, so if you’re a fan of that series (I totally am!!!), you’ll most likely enjoy The Secrets We Keep. I really liked the author’s writing, character building and pacing and I’m definitely interested in reading some of her other books now! (I’ve heard amazing things about Creed and Sweet Madness looks EPIC!!!)