The Secrets We Keep
Author: Trisha Leaver
Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~
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
The Secrets We Keep is a hard one to review, because whether you agree with Ella's decision or not, you will never know what you would do in her situation, unless you have a twin. It's bad enough losing a sister or brother, but a twin, that's the other half of you? That's a whole different bond only twins have, especially identical twins. It is character driven, and because of that I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.
When Maddy and Ella were younger, they were inseparable and as close as you expect twins to be, until Maddy drastically changes after falling in with the 'in' crowd in high school and started dating Alex. The way she acted, the way she did her hair and makeup, to everything she wore changed to appease the people around her. Maddy shut off the way she used to be, and effectively, shutting out Ella.
As I said, I don't quite know how to feel about The Secrets We Keep, I know I liked it, but...Here's the thing, I didn't like most of the characters. Frankly, Maddy is a bitch. Being dead doesn't change that. Maybe that was Alex's affect on her, but it never excused what she did, whether she was sorry or not. I despised Alex, he's controlling and an Idealist, basically, the guy is abusive. Which, you get to see that side of him once Ella takes over. Everything had to be right, Maddy had to do and say whatever he said, at one point he even told her to be quiet. The rest of the 'friends' and side characters are just as bad, and I use the term 'friends' loosely, sine they'll shove a knife in your back if you turn your back on them.
Ella and Josh were the only ones I liked, and I didn't like them all the time, either. Ella is...complicated. There's no other way to perceive her, and with what happened, what do you expect? She wonders what is wrong with her, with Maddy shutting her out, and everything's Maddy 24/7, she feels like she doesn't exist to anyone-even her parents- but Josh. Ella's decision to take over Maddy's life isn't out of jealous but out of grief and regret, she honestly thought that it was the best thing to do for everyone, since she thinks her parents loved Maddy more than her. Josh is my kind of guy, artistic, loyal, the only thing that irked me with him is how he kind of pitted Ella and Kim against one another.
As emotional as it was, there's a drawback because I never felt connected to the characters, but it was sad to see Ella go through all the things she was, she wasn't grieving for her sister because she was trying to keep her alive, and she wasn't grieving for the her she lost for the same reason. It was interesting to see her how she became Maddy day in and day out and nobody questioned that she might not be Maddy.
The Secrets We Keep is very character driven, the characters aren't perfect, but they are realistic in that way, but mainly The Secrets We Keep is centred around family dynamics and the bond of twins, how it can stretch and tear and the way of losing that bond can feel like losing a part of yourself.