Cover Image: The Truth about Keeping Secrets

The Truth about Keeping Secrets

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Member Reviews

You know how sometimes you see a book and the title gets stuck in your head and all of a sudden you feel compelled to read it as that particular book is all you can think about. Well, that was me with Savannah Brown's The Truth about Keeping Secrets. It has been on my mind for a couple of days now and so today, I finally got around to reading it and what a ride it was. The Truth About Keeping Secrets starts off with the reader learning that our main female character Sydney Whittaker's dad has just passed away in a car accident. Her dad was the local therapist - the only one in fact as they live in a smalltown. Sydney can't believe her dad is dead and believes he was murdered, unfortunately for her - she is the only one who thinks that. However, as a therapist, her dad was definitely the town's secret keeper and any of his patients could have told him a secret that was worth killing for.  After the funeral, Sydney starts to receive some strange text messages and eventually some stalkery stuff happens which makes us believe that Sydney was on the right track. Unfortunately, though , no-one believes her and her mother and the police think it's just a fellow schoolmate playing a prank. What happens though when things take a dark turn and Sydney could end up just like her dad six feet under? Will she finally be believed?  The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown is a read that will take you on a rollercoaster ride as you try and figure out all the twists and turns happening within the story with the variety of characters you are introduced too.
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I don't like reading many novels around grief. But this one was written so well and I really cannot praise it enough. 

The Pros: What worked for me

This story covers some hard-hitting topics but does it with the proper gravitas. The way the author describes the grief Sydney feels was so realistic that it had my heart aching. I've never lost a parent, but I felt and understood every emotion Sydenty showed.

Sydney's character was so raw but so relateable. She is a teenager dealing with the uncertainty all girls face about sexuality and relationships, but she is also trying to handle something as dark as death. Her sarcasm and coping mechanisms were ones I could understand and it made me connect with her - even though I've not had first-hand experience with these issues.

The "thrill" (if it can even be called that) took over in the second half but it was still well done, with plenty of clues and hints for the reader to pick up on earlier on in the book. It had a good setup and was also very believable, if unconventional.

I adored the relationship between Sydney and June. It was different but not fake and I liked seeing how they both opened up to each other in a way they couldn't with anyone else.

The Cons: What I didn't like

I didn't like that this novel was branded as a thriller. The story is really about how Sydney copes with her grief and the mystery took away from that for me. While I still enjoyed the novel, I think the descriptor threw me off (at least in the beginning).

This novel was hard-hitting in its realistic depiction of grief and the ways a teenage girl copes with the loss of a parent. I haven't come across a contemporary novel quite like this one, and even though people have compared this to We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, I personally believe this one is better than the latter! I give this book 4/5 stars!
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I enjoyed this far more than I expected I would. I'll admit that, as far as the mystery goes, the culprit was quite easy to guess, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. Sydney's character growth was wonderful, and I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet sapphic friends-to-lovers romance. Even though I don't pick up books from this genre very often, Savannah Brown's writing was so current and engaging that I'll likely pick up anything she publishes in the future. A very strong debut overall!
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I wanted to love this book, and think it dealt with difficult topics like toxic and abusive relationships, mental illness, and grief quite well, but I just couldn't enjoy it. The writing style didn't work for me, I couldn't relate to the characters, and I found the plot twist entirely predictable. There are definitely people who will love this book. I, unfortunately was just not one of them.
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Oh my god this book was so good. This was absolutely everything I wanted. 

This book is about Sydney, who opens the novel at her beloved father's funeral. He has just died in a car accident, and Sydney has trouble believing it was an accident at all. She thinks it's possible that he learned one secret too many, as he was the only psychologist in their small town. This book is about her investigating this, but it is also so much more. 

This book was so well-written. The emotions were real and raw, the descriptions beautiful and interesting. The way Brown writes grief is tangible, you can feel it in every way that Sydney does. Parts of this book hurt because the feelings were so well-constructed and genuine. The anxiety over death in this book is so well-crafted and exact that you can tell by reading it that Brown used her own experiences. This is the exact right amount of prose, it's beautiful and heartbreaking and vivid, but it never feels over-the-top or out of place. I went into this thinking it was a thriller, and in some ways it is, but what is mostly is is a heart-wrenching and difficult story about what it's like to move on after your world ends, what it means to find happiness after feeling an insurmountable pain, and what it means to find people who make life seem a little less terrifying. The thriller elements are still there, and they're still compelling and intense and they keep you reading, but it's the softer, more subtle parts of this book that really shine through in the end. This is honestly the perfect blend of thriller and contemporary. The action and the intrigue were there and they were given enough attention that they felt satisfying at the end, but Brown doesn't overshadow the pain and the loss and the life that happens in between clues and investigations. 

I liked Sydney. She was snarky and funny and easy to root for. Her relationship with her father was well-constructed, and her thoughts were very real. She was very real. She's not a very interesting person, but that's because she's spent so long trying to make it that way. It means more for the story that Sydney isn't special. She's not the chosen one or a teenaged Sherlock Holmes. She makes mistakes, she does things even she knows she shouldn't, and she is reluctant to change. Her investigations are realistic and frustrating and a lot of the time don't yield any results. Her feelings and her actions are justified and genuine. Her anxiety is true to reality. She's funny and loveable and snarky. She feels real feelings and isn't shy about sharing them. 

The side characters were excellent in this book. I loved Leo, who was snarky and bitter but not a stereotypical gay best friend, who had his own trauma and was still willing to try and help. Miles was my favourite athletic himbo with a heart of gold (dumb gold, but still gold). June was so interesting because she was so complex. A big thing with her is that Sydney admits that June is definitely lying and is keeping so much, but she's so likeable and lovely that it's hard to be mad. You can really feel that. You as the reader know June is lying, you want her to tell the truth, but she's also charming and sweet and funny, she understands Sydney and cares about people. You want to like her even while parts of the book accuse her of things. I really liked the way her story was concluded. It was realistic, but still optimistic. 

The romance in this was a nice slow-burn, which I love. I liked the way it progressed, and I actually enjoyed the uncertain ending. I don't always love the YA romances that end as if they'll be together forever because I don't think that's generally realistic. This romance was cute and complicated. 

The ending is really where I think this book shines. There are so many ways that Brown could've taken the ending that would've lessened the impact of Sydney's story. I loved the rest of the book, with its beautiful descriptions of grief and real portrayals of anxiety, but I was worried that the ending wouldn't do the rest of the book justice. Brown did not disappoint. The ending of this book was perfect in the fact that it was still thrilling and intense, but didn't take away from what she spent the book building up. It was the perfect blend of thriller and contemporary that the rest of the book was, and I was really glad that Brown kept that up until the very end. 

I have read a lot of YA books, both thriller and contemporary, and this one is just so real and tangible and palpable that I could not help but fall in love with it.
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I initially really struggled to get into this in the beginning, as the writing style is quite unique and took a bit of adjusting to. In the end, I actually quite liked the writing and think that it was probably one of the strongest aspects of the novel. The writing felt very personal too, as if you were in Sydney's head, which was great, I just had to get used to it. This meant that it felt like you were very much in it with Sydney as she was grieving. Her grieving process was very raw, honest and bleak and I think that the author did a really great job. And to be honest, these were the better parts of the novel to me. The 'secondary' storyline for me wasn't as impactful as Sydney trying to come to terms with her dad's death.

Unlike some other people, I didn't really go into this expecting it to be a thriller, so I was glad to have had the thriller aspects thrown in. I enjoyed trying to figure out who it was that was harassing Sydney and I was very interested in finding out who it would turn out to be and why. Unfortunately though, it felt a bit underwhelming in the end. I figured out who it was quite early, so that's probably what made it so anticlimactic. But I also just didn't really like the whole backstory behind it, it felt a little thrown together, compared to the rest of the novel, plus it felt like the only predictable, kind of cliche thing in this. Without a doubt, I would've scored this a lot higher if that hadn't played out the way that it did. It was a good topic to highlight but I don't think it was explored enough to really send a message.

Overall, I'm happy that I read this because I liked Sydney as a protagonist and how real she felt and how unfiltered her grief and general human experience was. And her relationship with June was fascinating to read about, in all its ups and downs. It was also so nice to have such a diverse cast of characters, both in race and sexuality, I especially loved Leo so much! This book has a unique charm about it and so even though I didn't love everything about it, I can still appreciate it. I would recommend it and would definitely pick up another book by this author.
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A friend had described this book as a book version of the Girls Like Girls video by Hayley Kiyoko and I feel like this is the best description ever.

The book starts with a death and a grieving daughter, Sydney, who feels like she'll never be happy again and that life without her dad has no meaning and isn't worth living. She slowly starts seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when she meets the mysterious homecoming queen, June. But that's also when she starts getting weird texts from an anonymous number. Who is this stalker? What do they want? Did they murder her dad? 

I read this book so quickly. It's one of those books that's impossible to put down because you need to know everything right away. The plot and the suspense were so great. And most of all the characters and relationships were so touching. I cried a few times while reading, Sydney's emotions were so well written. 

I would definitely recommend this book.

This book deals with a lot of hard topics like death, grief, homophobia, abuse. Savannah Brown has posted content warnings on her websites.
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Suspenful. Full of twists and turns. Who do you trust? Who do you believe? And when you finally think there might be a light at the end of the tunnel your life flips upside down. Well told thriller. Will keep you flipping the pages because you have to know the answers to the questions. Happy reading!
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The Truth About Keeping Secrets was a powerful novel about loss. Loss of a parent, loss of friendship, loss of self. But also in these pages, we see an incredible amount of growth and vindication.

Sydney Whitaker has just lost her father. She and her best friend don't seem to have anything in common anymore. And on top of that, she is getting hateful messages from an anonymous person, alluding that her father's death wasn't an accident. Those concerns mixed with the paranoia that someone is watching her propels Sydney into a mess of isolation and fear. Her best friend isn't really there for her and her mother refuses to believe her, so Sydney turns to the most unexpected person, June Copeland. The popular and seemingly cold and distant June turns up at her father's funeral and at his grave sight and Sydney needs to know why. When the two strike up an unlikely friendship, Sydney's life changes completely, becoming all about this girl. 

I liked this and thought that it was written beautifully. Loss isn't beautiful. It is dirty and messy and she demonstrated that well. Aside from that, what teenager doesn't feel like nothing is in their control? Mix in the total loss of normalcy when that person loses an integral part of their life? Chaos! I felt it in these pages. I felt Sydney's fear and fixation. I felt her isolation, and through all of that, I felt her possibility of new love and how that can completely consume you.

Well done Savannah Brown. Well done for creating such a web of intrigue and secrets. Picking through them was an intense journey.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is like a rollercoaster! So many plot twists. While the story isn't one that will stick with you for months or years, its a good read and a fun thriller. 

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
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3.5 🌟---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I actually really enjoyed this book. 
However, while this book has been pitched as an f/f thriller I would recommend it to people who were fans of books like We are Okay.  This is a story that deals heavily with topics of grief and unhealthy coping mechanisms. I would look up trigger warnings if that is a concern for you personally. 

This story follows a girl called Sydney Whitaker whose father just recently died because of a car accident. Sydney's father was the only psychiatrist for miles in their small town and was exposed to his patient's deepest and darkest secrets. Sydney isn't convinced it was an accident and so she embarks on a quest to find her father's killer, making and breaking relationships along the way. She ends up meeting a girl called June who changes everything and makes Sydney feel something again. But, what does she really know about June? 

okay, so I have some thoughts about this book. this story focuses on grief and unhealthy coping mechanisms. My main problem with this book was the aspects of unhealthy coping mechanisms. I felt that because Sydney was so in need of any semblance of normalcy she romanticized June and later became completely obsessed with her. I would have liked to see one of June's flaws like she doesn't take out the trash or something else mundane. Sydney should have focused on healing herself. She becomes consumed by June and in my opinion, uses her as a coping mechanism. She never seemed to realize that June was a person who had likes and dislikes and flaws. At the end of the book it tried to expose June's flaws but it only made her seem like the victim. I would have also liked if after the rather startling end of a relationship the girls had taken time to focus on themselves before getting together in the end.  Overall I did really enjoy this book but I would have liked the characters to be fleshed out more except Leo, Leo's perfect, I love Leo. Leo deserves his own book just saying. This was gay, very gay and that was much appreciated as well. Also from what I took away from the book June is mixed so that's cool however that was not a large part of the story but was an interesting detail I remember remembering. 
🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈
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Wanna read a mystery thriller in which the lesbian heroine finds out who killed her father? What about a coming of age romance between two women that is intermixed with mental health issues? Well, The Truth About Keeping Secrets can’t seem to decide which of those two plots to go with. What Brown does instead is combine the two as main plots, so you get some elements of both in there for a slightly skewed collaboration. Savannah Brown’s debut is a decent first try and great if you aren’t looking to analyze it further than a skimming of the page while you wait for your next great read. However, if you are looking for a substantial read, I would recommend going elsewhere.
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Honestly, this one isn’t going to be very memorable. It’s a relatively formulaic thriller. 

I think the only thing that really stood out as different was that the main character is a lesbian. I loved that, of course. 

I knew probably 30% into the story who was stalking Sydney. It wasn’t difficult at all to figure out. 

I did really love how palpable Sydney’s grief felt though. It was so raw. 

I honestly don’t have much more to say about this book.
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The style of book wasn't really my thing and I'm not sure I followed the leaps the main character made: her father disappears and she immediately thinks that something bad happened to him? You have to do a great job of selling that and unforatunately, that wasn't the case. But I do think we need more young adult books about grieving and this one fit that category.
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I was pretty bored reading this. I expected some awesome mystery but really I didn't get that at all. The ending didn't really connect in with the story and I can't say I was blindsided by the result but it felt very obvious that's who would end up being responsible but just not built up correctly if that makes sense? It was like "i want x to be responsible but I don't actually know how to make it so so I'll just avoid it and then BAM PLOT TWIST IT'S THEM" and it doesn't work - not for me, anyway. 

I also felt like the book just KEPT ON GOING. It's barely 300 pages but by about 250 I was just ready for it to be done, and then there was a good ending point but another chapter was tacked on to show "justice" and it just felt a bit.. clunky? I don't know. It just wasn't it for me. 

3 stars because it has lesbian rep but otherwise... meh
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I loved this! It wasn’t what I expected, but in the best of ways. It’s like I found a book I didn’t know I needed.
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This was a quick read with some good themes but it wasn't the "thriller" that I was expecting.  Good characters and some mystery elements but overall just wasn't exactly what I expected.  Thank you netgalley for this arc in exchange for my honest opinion.
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4-5 stars, while this book is not at all what I was expecting, wouldn't really consider it a thriller so much, it was well written, intriguing, and emotionally charged.  The characters were done with a fine precision and it really brought many emotions out of me throughout.  I think that there were mysterious angles throughout, but this book is much more of an emotional roller coaster, which takes you through a tumultuous course of many tough subjects.  Definitely written in a way that will choke your emotions out of you, but keep you reading until the end.  Recommend to those who like the books that really know how to make you gasp, cry, cry, cry, and many other things!  
Will make sure to buzz up on all the different platforms!
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This book gave me more than I signed up for in the best way. Based on the description, I thought I was going to read a typical YA thriller, but instead got a book that does a wonderful job covering tough topics like abuse, grief and sexuality. Grief is something that everyone eventually experiences, and I feel like it's important to have open discussions about it. I appreciate that Savannah Brown gave people an outlet to talk about these topics, while using her book as a tool to spur those conversations. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Savannah Brown and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of The Truth About Keeping Secrets in exchange for my honest review.
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This book has a ton of potential, but it was just not the one for me. I wasn't a huge fan of the pacing, but I think that it is definitely going to have it's lot of fans to those who like this vibe when it comes to their mystery/thriller ya books! I think that people should definitely give this one a shot, because I really do see a ton of people liking it--unfortunately, it just wasn't for me!
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