The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2015. ISBN: 9780374300463. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS
What do you do when you accidentally choose the wrong path, but realize in a short while that you’ve made a mistake? Ella and Maddy are identical twins, so close in looks and mannerisms that even their parents can’t tell them apart sometimes. In reality, they’re about as different as possible, but even so, underneath their differences and frequent friction, they love each other and have an incredible bond. Maddy has a boyfriend, Alex, Ella has a best friend, Josh, who happens to be a guy.
When Ella is studying late one night, she gets a call from Maddy, asking her to come pick her up at a party. Ella’s more than a little annoyed at having to rescue her black sheep sister once again, but does go. She finds Maddy an emotional mess, not even together enough to keep her shoes.
On the way home, they argue and Ella turns the wheel sharply in frustration, forgetting that it’s hailing. Unable to steer, she watches as they hit a curb and then a big tree. The next thing she knows, she’s in the hospital, Maddy’s dead and everyone thinks it’s her that died.
Her guilt makes her stay in the role of Maddy in an illogical attempt to make amends to her sister. The longer this goes on, the worse she feels, especially when she realizes how strong her feelings for Josh really are.
Reading as she navigates her way deeper into this emotional morass and what ultimately happens is a wrenching experience. The author does a stellar job of making you feel every single emotion that Ella feels as she desperately tries to figure out what to do.
This reminded me a lot of Jody Casella’s book Thin Space which also dealt with guilt, grief and twins in a superlative way. Teens who like a very emotional read, who have dealt with grief or sibling guilt as well as those who have parents who favor, or appear to favor one child over another, will like or relate very well to this book. It would be a very good addition to both school and public library collections.