Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Secret History Of Us

The Secret History of Us

This book kinda got me in the feels. The story of Liv Jordan, a girl who loses part of her memory after an accident where her car goes off a bridge, and has to try to recover who she was. Or, maybe, who she is. I was really moved by this one and for a fairly short book it captured a lot of emotions for me. Liv wakes up with no memory of the last four years, and has no recollection of high school, or her future plans, or even her boyfriend Matt. She remembers her best friend Paige but apparently she's no longer friends with Jules, and has no idea why.

I thought this book captured the feel of dealing with amnesia really well, from a perspective that I think a YA reader would really get. Liv has people telling her how she was, how she used to be, and they're all good people, all supportive, but the things they take for granted are things she has no memory of, so she can't just be the way they expect her to be. As time goes on she realizes too that she was keeping secrets from those closest to her, and she starts wondering what exactly she was trying to hide.

That's the angle that had me thinking there was a big twist coming or even a secret that would turn out to be shocking. And while there is a twist of sorts, it wasn't as mysterious or sinister as I was expecting. This was my first experience with Jessi Kirby and her writing and I was impressed. It's a fast reading YA book but has a lot of emotional weight behind it. I liked the characters here- Liv especially, but her friend Paige as well and her family who were super supportive. And her brother Sam is awesome, and kinda steals every scene he's in.

Secrets are of course revealed and even though a large chunk of the book is Liv coming to terms with her relationships- primarily with Paige and Matt- I also thought there was a nice undercurrent of accepting who we are. Liv has to grapple with who she was, but like I mentioned above, also who she is now- and are they the same person? Does she want to be the same person? And if she follows her heart, her instincts, will that make her someone else? It was these kinds of questions that I thought the author handled very skillfully.

There's no magic bullet and not everything is neatly tied up- there's no gotcha moment when she sees a photo or has a moment where it all comes flooding back- instead Liv has to live with not knowing when, or if, her memories will return. I thought the ending was very satisfying and even though there are a few things that felt a little convenient, I would highly recommend this. One of my favorites of the year.

50 comments:

  1. It does feel real that she might never know

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    1. I thought so, no magic solution just a realistic depiction of it.

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  2. Glad you liked it! I have this to get to and have seen some mixed things. Great review!

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    1. I've seen a few mixed reviews, but I really liked it.

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  3. I love a bit of the old amnesia! Thanks for sharing this one!

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    1. I like a good amnesia story too! Although this one really got me in the feels. :)

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  4. It's always fascinating to me how people deal with the loss of memory, and seeing it from the perspective of young person sounds unique. Glad you enjoyed it. Hugs...RO

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    1. Me too, and I loved reading about her perspective.

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  5. Adding to my TBR right now! :) Great review!

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    1. Awesome! And thank you- I hope you like it. :)

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  6. The ending sounds very intriguing to me - I LOVE that it's open-ended and didn't just tie everything up in a happy bow. It seems to me to be more realistic that the MC's memory problems would continue and not just snap back by seeing a photo or something. Great review!

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    1. I thought the ending was very realistic.

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  7. sounds like a really good read even though it wasn't as edgy as you were expecting it has to be good to be one of the best of the year :)

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    1. I was expecting more of a thriller/ mystery type story, but I have no complaints- the emotional and her coming to terms with her memory problems was a surprise, but a good surprise!

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  8. Oh wow. Amnesia as a plot device doesn't always work for me but it sounds like it was done well here. Especially if it stirs up so many emotions for the reader.

    For What It's Worth

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    1. It crops up a lot, but I liked here that it wasn't a thriller set up but turned out to be an examination of what a young person might actually go through.

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  9. Haven't heard of this one yet, but your review makes it sound great :)

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  10. You've sold us on this one -- we're adding this to our list! We love the sound of the characters, especially Liv and Sam; and it's nice to know that there's a message of acceptance and no perfect, neat ending. This sounds like such a great read. Thank you for putting this one on our radar, Greg! Great review :)

    ~Mckenzie & Michele

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    1. I think it's a good one. :) I think it has a lot to say, was a deeper look than I was expecting.

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  11. I have this one for review. Even though I am a tiny bit disappointed that there is no big twist, I am happy that it is realistic and satisfactory and well written.

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    1. I liked it a lot, and I hope it works for you! There is a twist but instead of it being mysterious, it's more of just a revelation or a revealing. Some may find it predictable but the why of it is not so much.

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  12. Amnesia is always such an intriguing story line and I always like trying to put the pieces together along with the characters. Great review!

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  13. I just read another positive review for this novel and I'm really intrigued. I really like the idea of a character grappling with two different versions of themselves. Great review!

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    1. It was really interesting to see how she handled the prior her vs the now her, if that makes sense!

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  14. Great review! Amnesia has always fascinated me. I will definitely have to check this book out.

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    1. Thanks! I like stories about memory stuff too, and this one was pretty good!

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  15. Oh YAY, I am so glad you enjoyed it! I agree, Jessi Kirby's writing is quite good, and I thought it handled the amnesia very well too. I think you nailed the reason why it fell a little short for me- there really was no "big" revelation, and I too had been expecting one. Still, I liked it! And I REALLY liked how it ended, too. Great review!!

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    1. I did like it! Wasn't expecting it to be a favorite, and I know some reviews were more mixed, but I really did. I liked the ending, although I thought maybe the 2nd male character should have shown up a LITTLE sooner? But other than that, all win!

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  16. I remember seeing this cover and thinking how it reminded me of Watch Me Disappear. A very different topic though. Have you read Liane Moriarty's What Alice Forgot? From your review it sounds like it may a similar premise, but from a YA point of view. Great review, I'll definitely pick this one up!

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    1. You're right, very similar! And I have not read What Alice Forgot, although I've read some of her other books. It does sound like a similar premise. I love Liane Moriatry's stuff.

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  17. I haven't heard of this one till now but it sounds interesting. I like a good amnesia story.

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  18. Anytime a book can make you emotional, I think that's a good sign! Especially if it can do that in a short book. But I do imagine amnesia would be a tough thing to experience. And I'm sure we all have secrets, not necessarily anything crazy or shocking, but just little things people don't know about us, but I've never really thought of that. I suppose that'd make things harder too since you'd be missing those parts. I'm glad you loved this one so much!

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    1. I thought she did a great job showing what it would be like for someone turning eighteen to have no memory of high school- the last memoris she has are when she wa 14. Man to remember nothing of high school, but have a boyfriend and everything.

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  19. Oh gosh - this one actually sounds really good!

    The amnesia rep sounds like a good one and I like that it really hit you in the feels - exactly where good books should hit.

    I like the questions that were raised and I'm glad that this is out there. If I see this one I'm definitely going to grab it.

    Great review!

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    1. It was really good. At least I thougt so! I thought she did a good job with the amnesia, and especially Liv's reaction.

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  20. It sounds interesting even if it is not one that I would read. I like the fact that there wasn't a clean little bow at the end to wrap everything up

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    1. Yeah I think it kept it realistic!

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  21. This sounds like a book I'd be interested in - thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  22. I've been seeing this one around a lot. Glad you liked it. Great review!

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  23. This sounds intriguing and while I've read a few books with characters who have lost their memory in an accident they're typically more adult thrillers. I like that ending isn't too neat but still manages to be satisfying.

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  24. Interesting. I'd dithered over this one for a while and I'm still not fully certain if I'll pick up this but it sounds like a well done read and one that does make you think. It's kind of inevitable you end up assuming a darker twist with amnesia books because it's a common idea in thrillers but I'm glad this book took a different tact.

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  25. This is a really great review, Greg! You're the first person I've seen to review this and I've been dying to know how it is. I love books with this concept of amnesia and what happens after but they tend to always fall flat for me for some reason. They usually end up being too easy and almost unrealistic. I love that this one doesn't tie everything up with a nice bow and Liv does have to figure out how and who she wants to be because the memories don't come back. I think I'll give this one a read for sure!

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    1. I really liked this. It had some twists without going off the rails unrealistic, and it was a good look at friendships too.

      And thanks!

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  26. I had no inkling to read this, but now I want to. Ha ha. Thanks a lot, Greg, my tbr pile is groaning!

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  27. When I saw this cover earlier, I did not expect this to be what the book is about.Wonderful review Greg! It's definitely a take on amnesia I haven't seen before.

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  28. Awesome review as usual, Greg! If you thought so highly of this title it is definitely one that I need on my radar! (Not that it wasn't already, but still.) I'm just slowly going through my Feedly... I was away at the snow for 4 days and the struggle to catch up is x__x killing me. So I'm just commenting on blogs that I like. :)

    Cass @ Words on Paper

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