Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

‘I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing his silhouette; his ghost crawled from the sewer drains. But in a town covered in residue, how could there have been such a lack? Outrage. Sound. Where were the sirens? The panic? Benjamin Whitaker was dead! Dad was dead!

‘There should have been chaos in the streets. The town should have been engulfed in flames.’

When Sydney’s dad dies in a car accident, she knows someone must be to blame. There’s no way her dad could have just died for no reason, especially not in a car crash. He was a therapist: one of his patients must have cut his brakes or done something equally extreme.

Sydney is tempted to go through her dad’s patient files looking for answers, but she resists for two reasons.

  1. Because she can hear her dad in her head screeching “Patient confidentiality, Sydney!”
  2. Because of her burgeoning friendship with homecoming queen June Copeland, who appears at her dad’s funeral. Turns out the most popular girl in school was one of her dad’s patients, and Sydney would have had no idea if her dad hadn’t kicked the bucket.

June is captivating, and Sydney quickly becomes obsessed with her. Her favourite part of the day is the ten minute ride to and from school; a chunk of time when she’s alone with June, no longer vying for her attention. She even ditches her best and oldest friend, Olivia, for the chance to hang out with June at New Year’s.

It isn’t long before Sydney feels herself developing feelings towards her that feel a lot more than friendship. But June and her boyfriend, homecoming king Heath, have been a couple forever, so there’s no way she’ll ever return Sydney’s feelings… Right?

But relationship troubles aren’t the only thing plaguing Sydney. Someone is stalking her, sending her horrible text messages that seem to confirm her suspicion that her dad’s death was less than clear cut. Sydney has no idea who could have been involved or why they’re now out to get her, but she’s determined to find out.

My only issue with The Truth About Keeping Secrets is that it’s slow. I wouldn’t necessarily market it as a YA thriller, because one of the key aspects of a successful thriller is the ability to maintain a fast, gripping pace which makes it difficult to put the book down.

It might be more accurate to describe it as a mystery, because there are lots of questions sprinkled throughout, combined with elements of gothic literature that make this novel very psychological.

However, The Truth About Keeping Secrets features one of the most accurate portrayals of grief that I’ve ever encountered. Sydney becomes obsessed with a website called Time of Death, filled with videos of people dying in various horrific ways. Grief often causes people to act inexplicably out of character, and it was nice to see that represented. It’s also not a habit she finds easy to break, either: she doesn’t automatically stop as soon as someone calls her out on it, instead choosing to get riskier, watching the videos on her phone at school.

The foreshadowing is a little bit forced, so I wasn’t as surprised by the outcome of The Truth About Keeping Secrets as I’d hoped to be, but the actual reveal is gloriously melodramatic and feels ripped straight from the script of a cheesy horror film. That might sound like a bad thing, but that’s one of my favourite kind of reveals, so I was hooked from the moment Sydney heard that car pull up outside…

If you’re a fan of adult thrillers but want something you can savour, this is the perfect combination of slow-burn drama and intriguing mystery. I was looking for a more traditional thriller for the YA crowd, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.