Title: The Secrets that she kept
Author: Salem Miles
Cover artist: N/A
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Self Published
Age Range: Young Adult
Publishing Date: 2022
Pick up if you like: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (it’s even briefly mentioned in the book!), Marly in Pieces by Cathrina Constantine, Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda
Diverse and LGBTQIA+
Trigger warnings: mentions of violence, sexual assault, abortion, teen pregnancy, suicide, bullying
“Some secrets died with her. Others are here, lingering in the air among us.”
Highschooler Dalia Parker is left to pick up the pieces after her best friend commits suicide. Dalia quickly finds herself starting out on a path she can’t turn back from in this mystery/thriller.
The secrets that she kept immediately follows the death of Julianna Robinson, and how her best friend Dalia is completely blindsided by the whole situation. Julianna leaves Dalia a task to do, to deliver letters to all their classmates to apologise for how she behaved, as we soon discover Julianna was as mean as she was popular.
The task is enough to snap anyone, let alone Dalia who is still reeling with trauma from a recent event in her life! Luckily Julianna tasked her twin brother James to help Dalia, however, all is not peachy as there is some unresolved conflict between the two at the start of the book.
The conflict between the students is heightened throughout the book, with multiple physical altercations happening on school grounds (Is this a thing nowadays, am I that old already?). As webs of lies and secrets unravel, unlikely friendships form as they all try to come to terms with the mess that Julianna left behind.
Truma and Dalia
One of the things I appreciated most about The secrets that she kept is Salem Mile’s approach to Dalia’s trauma throughout the book. Having dealt with a rape prior to the start of the book, she is seeing a therapist regularly and is taking medication to help her through the days. She is seen as struggling through the book in multiple ways, being triggered by events, the stress of cleaning up after Julianna, and discovering who she is without her. Salem is upfront with Dalia’s journey, which as in real life has its ups and downs, and isn’t wrapped up in a neat bow at the end of the book. Salem genuinely wrote this aspect with more tact and thought than some adult authors who are not writing their debut.
The secrets that she kept is the first in what I believe to be a trilogy, and I look forward to picking up the rest of the series to see how Dalia, and my other favourite characters continue to carve a path for themselves following the revelations from book one. This is one of those books I wish I had had the opportunity to read when I was younger, and I fully believe Salem’s writing will just get better and better!
Note: There are a few typos and other grammatical errors during this book, which the author herself acknowledges on Goodreads, they do not take away from the enjoyment at all. The overall plot and structure are strong and fast paced, leaving me to believe with an editor this series could be fantastic.
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