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One of those typical rainy days in Seattle, I dragged myself into this beautiful Ada’s Books and Cafe place. One of my friends gave me this book as a present. It was just right after LGBTQ Pride celebrations — perfect timing to read it! I had heard of Savannah Brown, the author, due to her poetry book Graffiti, which was one of the Good Choice Awards finalists in 2016. However, I started reading The Truth About Keeping Secrets without knowing much about it except for the engaging cover: dark colors and a little keyhole at the center. A few pages later, I realized that it wasn’t a mystery novel, and it was a different story from all the Young adult novels I had read so far. In The Truth About Keeping Secrets, Junior-high-school girl, Sydney, is emotionally abused after the death of her father. He used to be the only psychiatrist in town, and she believes his death in a crash was not an accident. On the day of his funeral, she starts to receive threatening text messages that imply her dad was murdered. To deal with her grief and fear, she finds comfort in her new friend June. Sydney begins to fall in love with her, but as indicated by the title of the book, she soon discovers that people sometimes hide secrets and that nobody is perfect. Savannah Brown writes poetically, and you can see how beautifully written this novel is. The descriptions of the characters and setting hooked me to the story. Even when some descriptions are long, it does not feel tedious to read it at all. The writing style and the cliffhangers at the end of every chapter compelled me to keep reading. Also, the decision to write the novel in the first-person narrator makes the story more authentic. What I enjoyed most about the book was the complex relationship between Sydney and June, how that relationship becomes more intimate thanks to the mystery that involves the life of the protagonist after losing her dad. More than a thriller, The Truth About Keeping Secrets is a novel about complicated relationships and emotions. It’s a journey through mental illness, love, loneliness, and the hope of being socially accepted—a wonderful debut of Savannah Brown. If you want to know more about this book or Sweetdark, her upcoming poetry book, you can follow her on Instagram as @savbrown.
Publication Details: 321 pp; Penguin Books; March 7, 2019