ARC Review & Giveaway: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Posted on 03/09/2015 in Book Review, Giveaway / 1 Comment

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review & Giveaway: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha LeaverThe Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on 4/28/2015
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.\r\n\r\nElla 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.\r\n\r\nWhen—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.

Weird and haunting.   Not sure if I liked it…

Things I Liked

I just always like to read (and hopefully) enjoy stories about twins.  I have lots of twins (identical and fraternal) in my family and friends circle, and the idea of simply even sharing a womb with another person is fascinating to me.  So when a book comes along that is also a mystery, I’m sold. The Secrets We Keep has some deep themes that I enjoyed:  tragic loss, survivor’s guilt, and sense of self.  In fact, the death of Maddy made me look into things like “twinless twins” or “lone twins” and read some real stories of twins who have lost their other half.  When Ella decides to live life as Maddy, she is forced to explore her sister’s secrets and also compelled to examine what made each of them unique.  In fact, these explorations lead the reader to realize that you can’t just become someone else.  At least, not so easily.  Selfness is unique to each individual. The twin bond is also fascinating.  Ella and Maddy struggled as siblings.  They argued, they got mad at each other, and they competed.  But their love for one another is still there, and while Ella doubts that Maddy cares about her at all, it’s evident in the things that are discovered in Maddy’s closet after she is gone.  Even the most self-confident person looks up to someone.  I imagine that is especially true with twins. Ella also had to face survivor’s guilt:  she simply doesn’t believe her life is worth as much as Maddy’s, by sheer virtue of being unpopular and not getting as much of their parents’ attention. The friendship with Josh is sweet and makes you hopeful that it’s foreshadowing a future relationship.  It’s nice to see a relationship that finds its foundations in a strong friendship, rather than the heady insta-love YA is rife with.

What I Didn’t Like

I went into The Secrets We Keep expecting Ella to expose the deep, dark secrets of Maddy and her friends, only to find out that they were somewhat petty and not entirely earth-shattering, and the plot read like a refined version of something you’d find in a Sweet Valley High book. In fact, I had several problems with this book:

  • Ella’s parents don’t know it is she who survived, but Josh does.  Too convenient.  I also find it unbelievable that they could not tell the difference between their two daughters, without the aid of Ella’s little freckle.  I’ve never met a parent who couldn’t tell the difference between their twins.
  • Alex was really controlling and as Ella got to know him, she found it sweet and romantic, which seems to fly directly in the face of her personality and likes/dislikes.  I personally thought he was a dick.
  • Spoiler title
    When Ella comes clean (because inevitably, she has to, right?), no one is mad.  In fact, it seems to assuage her parents’ personal guilt, and after telling her as Maddy that they couldn’t choose between their daughters ever, they seem somewhat relieved that it was actually Ella who survived.  


Upon further examination of my likes and dislikes, I realize I really do like this story.  I had a hard time putting it down, but it probably could have been executed a little better.  I think most YA fans will enjoy it.  


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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.


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