Keeping Secrets is one of those awesome book reissues involving two stories, Faking 19 and Saving Zoë. I decided to split this review into a “Part 1/Part 2” review, just so nothing gets confusing, and because they both deserve their own attention. I have already posted my review for Faking 19, which you can see here.
Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Tween
Plot: In Alyson Noël’s newest teen novel, one sister’s secrets save the other’s life–in more ways than one.
Meet fifteen-year-old Echo, a typical teen trying to survive high school without being totally traumatized by boy trouble, friend drama, and school issues. As if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Echo is also still dealing with the murder of her sister Zoë. Although it’s been over a year, Echo is still reeling from tragedy that changed everything. Beautiful and full of life, Zoë was the glue that held her family together, and although the two sisters were as different as night and day, they still had a bond that Echo can’t let go of. When Zoë’s old boyfriend Marc shows up one day with Zoë’s diary, Echo doesn’t think there’s anything in there she doesn’t already know. But as she gives in to curiosity and starts reading, she learns that her sister led a secret life that no one could have guessed–not even Echo.
Opinion: I would first like to say that it was a FANTASTIC idea to put Saving Zoë as the second story in this reissue. If it had been first, than I would have been pretty disappointed reading Faking 19 after a story like this. This is one of those books that will leave your inner child feeling a bit squirmy and queasy, but ultimately leaving a reminder behind about the dangers of the internet and strangers. Books like this need to be required reading in junior high and high schools; but since they are not, I recommend sipping this dose of reality.
Echo is fifteen and starting high school with her two best friends, Abby and Jenay, who are more than optimistic at their chance of meeting new friends and boys. But if starting high school wasn’t stressful enough, the looks and whispers that Echo receives when she walks by her classmates doesn’t help. Readers connect with Echo just one year after the disappearance and murder of her older sister Zoë, and her feelings of loss are more present than ever. Not only are the people around her accidentally dropping constant reminders; but being in the same school with Zoë’s old boyfriend Marc proves to be challenging, especially when Marc was a suspect in her murder. But when Marc reaches out to Echo one day and gives her Zoë’s old diary, her world is split wide open as she falls into the life of a sister she thought she knew inside and out. Soon Echo realizes the true story behind what happened to her sister; as well as finding herself along the way.
After reading this book, I sat in my chair for a few minutes feeling disgusted and sad. I am really not a big reader of any book that involves sexual abuse, stranger danger, or gruesome murders. Call me a pansy (I dare you 😉 ) but it just gets way too serious for me sometimes. But here I am, reading another book that makes me scream WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF, and not giving one single damn! Though these kinds of stories completely “weird me out”, I still find myself coming across them and getting sucked into every detail of the plots. Most of the time, these stories always turn out great because of the message they leave behind for readers. If an author can make me feel physically and mentally drained and saddened by a fictional story, they have my full attention from then on.
The character of Echo is your typical teenage girl that was cast in the shadow of her amazing and bubbly older sister. Echo is a prime example of a sibling that has faced a loss at a young age, while also trying to figure out how to find who she is and what she wants. I found Echo to be a bit confusing, and I didn’t connect with her character nearly as much as I connected with the story as a whole. I think the reader gets the general sense of her and how she acts/reacts, but I don’t feel like I really got to know her as much as we get to know Zoë. On another note, I loved how to author gave a little bit of what happens to Zoë throughout the story instead of just throwing it all at us at the beginning. I find that I stay interested when I only get hints towards what happened in a story about someone being killed, and it builds towards the ending in such a better way.
I think every female should read this, or a story similar, because it gives us all that little reminder to be aware of who we talk to on the internet. The internet, and the world for that matter, can be a scary and twisted place when we don’t have that constant reminder that terrible things could happen if we aren’t careful. I found that coming across books like this in high school kept me aware for myself, because sometimes listening to your parents repeat it constantly loses its impact. I HIGHLY recommend this to girls, women, boys, and even parents! This is a very insightful and heart wrenching story that I think can benefit a lot of people.