Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book Review: The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

Pages: 280
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Golden, Moonglass
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A near drowning…a coma for days…and then… Olivia wakes up to realize she doesn’t remember. Not just the accident—but anything from the last four years. Not high school. Not Matt, the guy who is apparently her boyfriend. Not the reason she and Jules are no longer friends. Nothing. That’s when it hits her—the accident may not have taken her life, but it took something just as vital: her memory. The harder she tires to remember things, the foggier everything gets, and figuring out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she wasBut then there’s Walker. The guy who saved her. The one who broke her ribs pumping life back into her lungs. The hardened boy who keeps his distance despite Olivia’s attempts to thank him. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t even remember living."

Liv and Matt are on the way back from a party and the car they are in is hit by a truck.  In turn, the car ends up in the bay.  Matt is able to escape the submerged vehicle, but Liv is trapped in the car and is unconscious.  Matt tries desperately to get her out of the car with no luck. Enter Walker, who is able to pull Liv from the car and perform CPR on her until the paramedics come.  When Liv awakens at the hospital, her family realizes, and eventually her, that her memories of the last few years of high school are gone due to some sort of amnesia from her accident.  In fact, she doesn't even recognize Matt.  It's as if she has to figure out who she is all over again and even though her best friend tries to clue her in, it's still a big mystery.  How do we know they are telling the truth about who she really is? What if she doesn't want to be that person anymore?  Jessi Kirby's thoughtful story of finding your true self gives readers a lot to think about, but in the end, The Secret History of Us wasn't my favorite of Kirby's novels.

I felt for Liv from the beginning in The Secret History of Us. I mean could you imagine not knowing what happened to you the last few years of your life? This is especially traumatic given that high school is so important and so much happens in a short span of time.  She is relying on family and friends to fill in the gaps, but how do we know they are being accurate? Are they glossing over things? Making things seem better than they are? What if she doesn't like what she finds out? And to complicate matters further, Liv wants to learn more about Walker, her rescuer, and the more she learns, the more curious she becomes. Does she have a history with him?

Normally Kirby's characters really "wow" me and I can relate to them on some level, but that was not the case in The Secret History of Us. While I liked Liv, I can't say I was overly invested in her story or any of the other characters. They were just ok for me.  While I did want to know the truth surrounding her rescue and the mystery of Walker, I wasn't as hooked as I was hoping. Some parts of the plot were really slow moving.  I think the issue is the amnesia plot line. A lot of authors have been focusing on that plot device and I think it's starting to become played out.

I did like how The Secret History of Us made me think though about one's true self and living life the way you want, not what other people want for you.  Even though this wasn't my favorite of Kirby's novels, she still is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors and I look forward to reading her next novel, The Other Side of Lost, which is due out this summer.

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