Expected Publication: April 28th, 2015
The Secrets We Keep
By: Trisha Leaver
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school life living in popular Maddy's shadow, 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.
The premise of this kind of reminds me of a true story from a few years back, about two girls that were close friends and looked like sisters. They were in an accident, and one of them died. The other lost the ability to speak for awhile and was gravely injured, so she spent months being cared for by the other family, while her own family assumed she was dead. All because she had no way to communicate her own name to them. Probably my biggest problem with this book, is that the reasons Ella keeps the secret of who survived is ultimately selfish and to ease her own guilt. The author makes a point to say that Ella in no way envies Maddy's popularity or "perfect" life. But I believe on some level she must have, to be so willing to take on the mantle of that life for herself. At first it wasn't so bad, because she legitimately didn't quite know who she was when she first woke up. Everything was still fuzzy, which is understandable after a major car accident.
What about the people that love her, Ella? You have to be pretty mentally damaged and without self-esteem to believe that it's better to assume another identity and for people to think you're dead, than to tell the truth about the situation! It's not like no one cares about Ella - her family and her friend Josh grieve for her fairly obviously. Yet Ella, for some odd reason, has it in her head that just because everyone's relieved Maddy is alive, it means they're glad she was the one that was killed - that she's expendable, because she's unpopular. WTF???!!! That is why I had to DNF this book. I sympathized with Ella's grief over losing her sister but had ZERO tolerance for/ability to emapthize with the predicament she gets herself in by assuming its easier to lie and "be" Maddy then it is to tell the truth. In my opinion, she deserved every problem she got. The grass is always greener and all that. But what a selfish thing to do, by depriving everyone of their grief and taking advantage of the situation, so that she didn't have to deal with her own survivor's guilt. What about when the truth comes out, as it always does? How will anyone even be able to stand her then? Just disgusted by the main character's weak willed nature. Oh yeah, she's so brave for stealing her twin's identity. SURE. The true bravery comes from confronting your grief head on, and taking that bitch down.
VERDICT: Did Not Finish Reading
***I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is April 28th, 2015.**