Review: The Secrets We Keep Holds Back

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver has a great idea for what could be a great book overall. I just have a few problems with it.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years 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 and the company of her best friend, Josh, over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy’s world.

I can relate to Ella on this level. Growing up with an older sister, or a more popular one, you feel like people, or your parents, like them better. In the actual book, Ella pretends to be Maddy because she thinks that everyone liked her better. But what about Josh? Or all the anime club kids? Or how about her own parents? Sure, Maddy got what she asked for, but did Ella ever ask for anything from anyone? No, because she was the “independent” one. There is nothing to blame but herself for that one. I get that she was disoriented until she saw the corpse, and that Ella actually believed she was Maddy. However, after she got all her memories back she could have easily corrected the problem. Or, you know, ask about where her mother and father were, and why Alex was the one stuck by her bedside.

When– after a heated argument– Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves Maddy 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. And everyone believes her. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options: confess her deception and risk devastating those who love dMaddy, or give up all of her own dreams and live her sister’s life.

In the beginning of the book we meet Ella laying in Maddy’s bed, pretending to be Maddy, hence why she’s in her dead sister’s bed. One of my major problems is that Trisha Leaver doesn’t bring the book back to that specific point. That’s generally the WHOLE reason why an author would do that. I was looking forward to figuring out how Ella got to that specific point in time. If I could rewrite this book that is the first thing I would change. Get to the specific point in time in which you started the book with.

My second major problem would have to be the perception of time in the book. I totally thought that everything happened in a timespan of maybe two to three weeks. I was impressed that everything happened in that short amount of time. However, apparently it was over a few months time. It was hard as a reader to tell the amount of time that each event occurred. After the accident, I couldn’t tell how long Ella had been in the hospital and then recovering at home. Guess what! It’s a month according to the conversations in the book. Wow! And then Ella pretended to be Maddy for even longer, and I applaud everyone in pretending along with her. Yeah, I’ve been grief stricken multiple times in my life, and for the first few weeks you would love to have that person back in your life. But after a few more weeks, if there was someone pretending to be whomever I lost, I would start picking up the hints. I would even confront that person. Obviously, Ella has had practice being Maddy, but not enough practice with all the clothes and makeup and hair to make it last a few months. That’s just ridiculous.

I was really happy about a few things though. One of them being Alex’s character. Trisha Leaver, you did one thing right, and that was make Alex not entirely a clichΓ©d jock. He was sweet and actually cared. However, he made Ella and Maddy do things that I just wasn’t okay with. Like maybe the whole Molly thing. Yeah, that wasn’t cool dude. Otherwise, overall, Alex was one of my favorite characters. Right after Josh and Ella. I could easily relate to Ella’s character, as well as Josh’s, and that I applaud the book for. It’s a great, quick read if you’re looking for a beach read.

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