I have been basically bugging everyone to read this book for a long time. I read it more than six months ago, but it still is with me today, which says a lot, because I often forget books weeks later, nevermind months. I plan on buying this book when it comes out for sure, because I really enjoyed it, and quite honestly want to reread it!
I was SO fascinated by this whole concept! I had friends in high school and college who are twins, and they used to switch places ALL the time (like, if one didn't want to take a math test or something- because honestly, who ever wants to take a math test?) but I found it amusing, because I could always tell them apart! I think in this case, there wasn't a reason to doubt that it was Maddy, and in the aftermath and the grief... it just became so. PLUS, real Maddy wasn't around to compare Ella to. It just worked in the situation, believably.
Let's start with the believability piece, because I know that was one of my worries when I started the book. But there was no need, because it felt very authentic. Ella really believes that everyone would be happier if Maddy were the one who'd made it out alive, and since they think she had, she goes with it. How sad, in so many ways. Obviously, it's incredibly heartbreaking that Maddy is gone, and that Ella has lost her twin, but what an awful feeling to really and wholeheartedly think that everyone you know would prefer your sister to be alive.
I sobbed for a good, long time. Most of the book, in fact. Ella was struggling on so many levels. She'd lost her twin, and I loved how the "sisterly bond" thing was brought into play, because it is very real. But then while she was grieving for her sister, she was also grieving for her own life, the one she'd willingly abandoned in that split-second decision. It was very hard to read, but that was because it was so well done you couldn't help but feel for Ella.
Taking on Maddy's life was not the picnic Ella assumed it was either. Maddy's friends were so.... drama. And not in a good way, in a Mean Girls-esque kind of way. Yes, Maddy was popular, but at what price? Jenna, the best friend, was the worst of the bunch. Of course, Ella wasn't in love with Maddy's boyfriend Alex either, but she went on pretending. Maddy was keeping her share of secrets too, of which Ella had to decipher.
The relationships in this book are very strong. Ella's best friend Josh has to grapple with the loss of Ella, which is so hard for her to watch. And she begins to realize that things with her parents weren't as cut and dry as she'd thought. It really helps Ella to see a very different perspective on not only her life, but Maddy's as well, and the relationships they both had.Bottom Line:
The Secrets We Keep not only had me feeling things for Ella and Maddy and their loved ones, but also made me think a lot about my own life, how perhaps the way we perceive ourselves isn't really accurate- and how maybe, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's a beautifully written book that deals with loss, grief, finding oneself, and holding onto hope. It explores relationships with family, friends, and yes, romantic interests in a way that is quite unique, as it is from a perspective that few of us would ever encounter.
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight Reply