Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.
Whenafter a heated argumentMaddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two optionsconfess her deception or live her sister's life.
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver is a fast-paced, powerful story about identity, sibling love, and accepting yourself.
About the Author
Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband and three children. Her debut YA psychological thriller CREED (co-authored) was published in 2014 with Flux.
Read an Excerpt
The Secrets We Keep
By Trisha Leaver
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2015 Trisha Leaver
All rights reserved.
My phone vibrated on my nightstand, jarring me from the sketchbook I had open on my lap. I'd re-created the same drawing five times in the past week, and yet it still wasn't good enough. Problem was, if I didn't figure it out by midnight tomorrow, I'd be out of time.
Assuming it was Josh again, I let it go to voice mail, more concerned with perfecting the sketch than bickering with him over something his neighbor and sometime-girlfriend, Kim, had said. I wasn't interested in dissecting why she was offended that Josh chose to let me drive him to school every day, even though she lived less than a hundred yards from him and he had a car of his own. That was his problem, not mine. And if he couldn't figure that one out on his own, then he was an idiot.
I tossed my charcoal pencil down in favor of graphite. Perhaps it was the reflection of light in my picture that was off. After a few strokes, I realized it wasn't—all I'd done was take a relatively decent drawing and make it worse.
The phone rang again, the same irritating song breaking my concentration. Swearing, I caught it before it buzzed off my nightstand and tossed it onto the bed next to me. Josh knew I was finishing up my portfolio tonight. I wanted it in early to ensure I was on track for early admission and not slotted into the general-admission pool for the Rhode Island School of Design. His call could wait; he'd understand.
The phone kept ringing, only stopping long enough to chime with an incoming text. Shaking my head, I turned to check the time. The bright numbers on my alarm clock bothered my bleary eyes. After several long, hard blinks and a few more muttered curses, the numbers came into focus. Two twenty-three in the effin morning. What could be so important that Josh had to call me at two-thirty in the morning?
I rubbed my eyes and answered, not bothering to check the caller ID. "What do you want now, Josh?"
"Ella? It's me."
It took a second for me to place the voice. It sounded off, throaty, and quieter than usual. I stared at the phone. My mind registered that it was my sister talking, but I still searched my darkened room for her. I don't know why; we hadn't shared a room since we were ten.
She was in bed when I came upstairs earlier that night. She was grounded. Dad had come home early from work on Tuesday and caught her and Alex in her bedroom. She worked him down from three weeks without a phone to one night of grounding, but that left her stuck at home on a Saturday night with nothing but me and her collection of DVDs to keep her company. So what was she doing on the other end of my phone?
Flicking on the hallway light, I stared across the narrow space to her room. As always, her door was closed, and I had to get up, trudge those seven steps to her door, and push it open. The room was quiet, her rumpled bed empty. The window behind it was open a crack, probably so she could sneak back in.
"Maddy? Where are you?"
"Alex's," she said, her voice muffled by what I could've sworn were tears.
"What's the matter?"
I was more curious than anything. Maddy didn't cry. Ever. She said it was a sign of weakness and that it made your makeup run. The weakness part I got; the popular crowd she'd immersed herself in would use anything they could against one another.
The makeup part ... yeah, that I didn't get.
"Nothing. It doesn't matter. I just need a ride home, Ella."
"Where's your car?"
My guess was that she'd lost her keys or, better yet, was too drunk at one of Alex's parties to drive. I'd pick her up—there was no question about that, but I wanted to prod her for a reason first.
"It's at home. Jenna picked me up."
"It's two-thirty in the morning, Maddy," I said, already putting on my shoes. "Can't you get Jenna or Alex or somebody else to drive you home?"
"No, Alex can't and Jenna won't."
I shrugged, not caring that Maddy couldn't see me. I didn't get why Maddy hung out with Jenna, what she could possibly see in her best friend.
"Come on, Ella. If Mom and Dad find out I snuck out, I'm screwed."
I snorted at that one. Screwed? My twin sister was never screwed. She always seemed to skate by, knew exactly what to say to get herself out of everything. She'd be extra-sweet to our mother, pout for our father, and for Alex ... well, from what I could gather, she had an entirely different arsenal for getting her way with him.
I could count my friends on one finger, but she could fill the entire cafeteria with laughter. I'd wake up at six in the morning so I could be early for school, and she'd roll in five minutes past the first bell, moaning about some flat tire to get herself out of detention. I'd collapse on my bed exhausted from studying till midnight, and she'd sneak out and go to a party with her boyfriend.
"I'm sure you'll think of something to tell them." And they'd buy it. No matter who she was talking to or what lie she was selling, they always bought it.
Maddy managed to make the honor roll, but that was mostly my doing. I'd study for days, then cave when she'd beg me to pretend I was her and take a test she'd completely forgotten about. I never complained; it's not like she took any advanced courses, so it required no effort on my part.
I was getting so good at playing her that her friends couldn't tell us apart. I kept my hair long and stopped adding pink streaks to the underside to look more like her. I'd mastered her voice as well, knew exactly how to raise and lower the pitch to match her sarcasm.
She paid me fifty bucks to take an oral Spanish exam for her last week, one she "completely forgot I had." I scored her a solid 82. No point in getting her an A. She took my spot in Physics that day, pretending to be me so I wouldn't get a detention for skipping class. We had a pop quiz. She took it for me, scoring me a miserable 47. Now I was looking at doing extra-credit work for the rest of the term to even manage a B.
I got back at her though. Still pretending to be Maddy, I went and found Jenna and told her I wasn't feeling well and was staying home that night. Then I called Mom to tell her the same thing. Maddy was beyond pissed; she'd unintentionally got herself a Friday night at home in bed with Mom hovering and me gloating. As for Jenna ... I'd never heard that girl scream so loud in my life, something about a family dinner to celebrate her birthday that Maddy had promised she'd be at. Oh well, not my problem.
"Ella, please," Maddy begged, pulling me from that memory. "I'll make it up to you. I swear. Whatever you want."
"You always say that, Maddy."
"I know, but I mean it this time. Please."
I had a memory full of promises just like that one. Difference was, I kept my promises. Maddy's were nothing more than hollow assurances aimed at getting people to do what she wanted.
We were so different. Maddy was skirts and heels and flatirons, where I was jeans and T-shirts and ponytails. She was Friday-night parties and homecoming dances. I was B-rated horror movies on the couch with microwave popcorn. From her perfect hair to her perfect friends, right down to her perfectly pedicured toes, Maddy was my opposite.
"Ella? Ella!" Maddy shouted into the phone.
The muffled crying I'd heard earlier was gone, her rapid breathing and rising pitch lending an edge of panic to her voice. I don't know why she'd freak; it's not like I'd ever say no. She was my sister, my twin sister at that, and I would always help her.
"Fine. Whatever," I said, and grabbed a sweatshirt from the end of my bed. "I'll be there in fifteen."
I quickly flipped through my drawings, picked the best of four sketches of the exact same subject, and carefully tore it out. Surprisingly, it was the first one I'd done. I scanned it in, adding it to the ones I'd already uploaded, and hit the Submit button. It was only October 18. The application wasn't due for another two weeks, but, like I said, I wanted it in early. Plus, if Maddy expected me to drop everything to come get her, then the least she could do was wait the ten extra minutes it'd take me to e-mail my art school application.
My dog, Bailey, hopped down off my bed the minute I stood up, intent on following me around. He beat me to my bedroom door, then waited as if he needed my permission. Knowing him, he'd bark the second I left the house, letting me know he was not happy staying behind. I didn't mind him being angry. He was a dog, he'd get over it in less than a second. What I didn't want was Bailey to wake my parents up. It was bad enough I had to go bail Maddy out. I didn't feel like dealing with Mom and Dad's questions, too.
I grabbed a treat from the box I kept on my nightstand and hid it beneath the covers on my bed. Bailey did as I expected; he jumped up and started nosing through my comforter. I'd hidden it deep enough that it would take Bailey a while to find, hopefully long enough for me to get out of the house unnoticed.
I poked my head into my parents' room before heading downstairs. They were asleep, the TV still casting a pale blue light. I thought about turning it off but figured the sudden lack of noise might wake them up. My eye caught the array of pictures covering Mom's dresser. The flickering glow from the TV gave a hint of what they were, but I didn't need to see the photos to describe each one. They'd been there for as long as I could remember.
The big one in the middle was a family portrait taken three Christmases ago. We were gathered around a fake fireplace in some photographer's studio. The scowl on my face was the source of a huge argument that day. Next to that was a picture of Maddy and me on our sixteenth birthday. She looked stunning and was staring off into the distance, probably at Alex. I was standing there praying for Mom to hurry up and take the damn thing so I could go back to my room. The other three pictures were of Maddy. Maddy after her field hockey team won divisionals her sophomore year. Maddy and Alex at junior prom last year. Maddy with the keys to her "new" car.
It was the same in real life. At my father's office Christmas party, she was the one he introduced first. When we went to church, she got to sit between them. When a relative or an old friend asked my mom about the twins, it was Maddy's accomplishments Mom launched into first. Me they were still trying to figure out.
I was the smart, quiet one who preferred the inside of a book to parties. Quirky and reserved, that's how they described me to their friends. Quirky and reserved.
I quietly closed the door and made my way downstairs. It was pitch-black outside, the moon hidden behind a thick bank of clouds. It had rained earlier and, from the looks of it, was going to again.
I grabbed my coat and hat from the hall closet and headed outside. Luckily, the neighbors had left their porch lights on, or I would've walked smack into the trash cans at the end of our driveway. As it was, I'd already stumbled twice—once over Bailey's half-chewed rope toy and again, steps later, over a sprinkler head. That last one landed me on my butt, cursing and trying to brush the dampness from my jeans.
When I finally made it to my car, I realized Maddy's car was in the way. She'd parked straight across our driveway, blocking everybody in.
"Seriously, Maddy?" I said as I kicked her tire. It'd be fine if she was the first to leave in the morning, but she never was. Maddy was always the last one out the door, putting her makeup on in the rearview mirror while she raced to school. It was me who rearranged the cars each morning so Dad could get to work and I could get to school.
I winced at my throbbing toe and made my way back to the house. Moving the cars around wasn't an option. If turning off the TV had the potential to wake my parents up, then shuffling cars in the driveway would certainly have them stumbling down the stairs wondering where I was going.
I hung my keys on the hook next to the door. There were five hooks there, each clearly labeled with a name. Mine, Dad's, Mom's, Maddy's, even one designated for the lawn tractor keys, but Maddy's weren't there. Of course they wouldn't be there. Knowing her, she'd probably thrown them on the counter when she came in, figuring one of us would find them and hang them up.
"This is the last time, Maddy. I swear to God, this is the last time I do anything for you," I muttered to myself as I fished around our kitchen counters in the dark. She couldn't make bailing her out easy. Nope, Maddy had to make everything as difficult as possible.
I finally found her keys wedged behind the radio. I picked them up, swearing to tear her a new one for being so selfish, then headed back out into the damp night air. If everything went as it should, I'd be home and in bed in less than a half hour with another of Maddy's promises to make it up to me stashed away in my brain.CHAPTER 2
It was drizzling by the time I reached Alex's house. Except for a few scattered cars parked between the trees, you'd never have known there was a party going on. I guess that was a perk of being really rich—a long driveway and lots of land to buffer sound.
I remembered the day Maddy met Alex Furey. We were freshmen, and it was our third day of school. I thought going to a new school with my sister would make everything easier, figured I'd have at least one person to sit with at the lunch table. I didn't take into account that we had no classes together, that Maddy was a lot more outgoing than me, or that we had very little in common. I assumed we'd stick together, and I'd have a built-in safety net.
Maddy let me crowd her those first few days, smiling and encouraging me to go off on my own and make some new friends. I tried: sitting next to people who I didn't recognize in my classes and saying hi to the few kids who looked my way. But when none of them said hi back, I ignored them and minded my own business.
That first Wednesday, I went to find Maddy in the cafeteria, excited about the drawing I'd done in open studio. The lunchroom was as loud as always, the smell a cross between burned pizza and nasty gym socks. Looking forward to a half hour of peace, I grabbed a tray and bought something I deemed safe enough to eat—a hot dog—and headed in to find her. But she wasn't sitting in the corner of the cafeteria like she had been on Monday and Tuesday. That table was empty—eight vacant chairs surrounding an equally deserted table. I searched the other tables, automatically focusing on those kids sitting alone. No Maddy. It wasn't until I scanned the center of the room, my eyes skating across the six tables that had been jammed together, that I saw her. She wasn't sitting in a chair. She was perched on top of the table, her arms draped around some kid's neck. And she was laughing.
I stood there watching her, debating whether to go over and sit down next to her or to seek out one of the empty tables that littered the corners. Luckily, I didn't have to make the decision. Maddy made it for me.
She extricated herself from the boy's hold and hopped down off the table. I couldn't hear her over the noise, but I gathered from the flick of her wrists that she was telling him she'd be back in a minute.
"Hey," she said as she stopped in front of me. "I waited for you outside the cafeteria, but—"
"Yeah, sorry, I had a question about a geometry problem," I said, cutting off her lie. She'd never waited for me outside before. Not once during junior high and not once since we started here.
"Who are they?" I asked, looking past her to the group of people now staring at us.
"Alex Furey," she said, smiling in his direction. Here was a smile I hadn't seen before—head cocked and perky.
"Okay," I said, taking a step toward the table. I didn't care who we sat with so long as I didn't have to sit alone.
Maddy stopped me, her perfectly pink nails encircling my wrist. I stared down at them, wondering when she'd had time to paint her nails and when she'd started wearing pink. And were those tiny white flowers painted in the middle?
We'd come to school looking nearly identical, so much so that our homeroom teacher did a double take. We were wearing the same jeans, the same hair twisted into a bun, the same boring beige tank tops when we left the house, but somehow she had changed and redone everything from her shoes to her makeup in the last three hours.
Excerpted from The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver. Copyright © 2015 Trisha Leaver. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not bad but not as good as I'd hoped. It feels like there are a lot of plot holes here if I took the time to dig them up, but overall, a good read. Worth picking up if you're interested.
The Secrets We Keep deals with twin sisters, Maddy and Ella, who are identical but couldn't be anymore different. After a tragic accident leaves Maddy dead, Ella is overwhelmed and feels like she's the one responsible for Maddy's death. Through some mistake, everyone at the hospital has confused her for Maddy and when she realizes how happy they all seem that Maddy had survived and not Ella, she makes a decision to pretend to be Maddy to keep everyone happy. When I first read about this book, I was really intrigued to pick it up, to find out what happens in the end, and hoping for something that was really awesome and that I could simply read in one sitting because it was that good. It's sad to say that I was somewhat disappointed with this book. It was pretty predictable right from the beginning and was full of cliches. Ella's reasoning behind pretending to be Maddy was so that she could "give her life" to her sister and let her be the one that survived yet this concept made no sense to me. It seemed like sometimes Ella was envious of Maddy and getting to be her she could finally have all the things she didn't get to have because of her quiet and shy personality. I think my biggest disappointment was that I could see this book being so much more yet it failed to deliver. It was a typical twin sisters fighting because they were complete opposite story. A mistake happens and one is dead and now the other feels guilty. I wish there were more emotions in the book and less of Ella trying to figure out what made Maddy so popular and why Maddy didn't want to hang out with Ella anymore. The ideas weren't unique at all and I could easily tell how the book would end a couple of chapters in. I do have to say that there was a good mystery throughout the book. The secrets between the sisters add up and one of the reasons I kept reading was so that I could find out what exactly happened between them. It's a lot of high school drama, a little typical but overall a good book for a young audience.
4.5 Stars 'The Secrets We Keep' is a gripping young adult contemporary novel that asks the question - what would happen if one twin sister took over the identity of the other? The story follows identical twins Maddy and Ella as they go about their normal teenage lives. Although they're twins, they are complete opposites - Maddy is popular and outgoing, while Ella is quiet and would rather sketch than hang out with lots of people. Even though they don't have very much in common, the twins are incredibly close to one another. The story takes a tragic turn when an argument causes the sisters to get into a fatal accident - one in which Maddy dies. When Ella wakes up in the hospital, full of guilt and surrounded by people who all believe that she's Maddy, she quickly decides to take on the role of her sister. As Ella delves deeper into Maddy's personal life, she discovers that her sister had lots of secrets and she might not have been the person Ella thought she knew. Ella's left with one choice - come clean about her true identity or take on Maddy's for good. This book is one of the ones that instantly grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go until long after you've finished reading. I was sucked into Ella and Maddy's world from the first paragraph on - and I got so wrapped up in the story that I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting. Although the plot isn't completely original, the author sets the book apart from the rest by creating incredibly realistic characters and a story line full of secrets, lies, mystery, and some romance. I loved both of the twins - Maddy and Ella. Although Maddy dies in the story, we're able to get to know her through Ella's thoughts and memories. Each of the girls has a distinct personality with flaws, strengths, and weaknesses - among many other things - that set them apart from each other. It does sound a little cliche that one twin is the pretty and popular one, while the other is quiet, shy, and does her own thing - which is sketching in Ella's case. Even though some of these aspects weren't wholly unique, the intimate details of each girl and their lives - along with the story that follows Maddy's death - certainly made it stand apart for me. I loved discovering the truth about Maddy alongside Ella. Nobody is exactly who they seem to be on the surface, which plays a large part in the story. There were definitely some twists in the plot that I didn't see coming, which made me rethink some things I thought I knew about the girls. I love that the author added in these twists to keep us on our toes. There's definitely a bit of mystery going on in the book and I really enjoyed trying to get to the bottom of it all with Ella. Although this book has some serious twists and suspense, it was also a book that focuses on the twins and their bond to one another. That being said, the book was definitely somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for me. Having that deep of a bond with someone, losing that person - the grief, guilt, loss, pain - it definitely had my emotions all over the place. Some places were happy with good memories, while other parts focused on the not so great things that happen. Ella's emotions are incredibly vivid and written in a way that touched me in a way that most other books don't. The writing was incredibly well done. It had a fast pace and a great flow that made it basically impossible to stop reading once things got going. The author used a great amount of description and attention to detail that brought Ella's world to life, and made it very easy for me to slip inside the book and experience it all as if I was there myself. There's a bit of something for everyone mixed into the novel, so it will definitely appeal to fans of most genres. Even if this type of story isn't your normal go-to or favorite genre - I highly encourage you to give it a shot. I honestly don't think you'll be disappointed in the least - actually the opposite. I very highly recommend this book to readers of all genres, especially those who enjoy YA contemporary fiction, mystery, suspense, and thrillers. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I wanted to read The Secrets We Keep because I was intrigued about the twin aspect, and how they switched places in life, and what made one sister decide to be the sister who died when she wakes up. The complexities as well as the different lives of two girls with identical DNA appeals to me. I also wanted to know the things Ella discovered while pretending to step into the life of Maddie, and what has happened in her life since they stopped being as close. Its interesting to see the differences between Maddie and Ella. They're identical twins so you would think that would make them more similar than different but since high school has started Maddie's kinda moved on to being different than she used to. She's a popular kid she has tons of friends and a new best friend that Ella never really understood. Ella was really upset because they lost that close bond that used to have and Maddie all the sudden wanted to hang out with new people and kind of shoved Ella to the side or at least that's what she felt like. I connect with Ella better because I am more of the quiet person with a smaller but overall closer group of friends. Before the car accident, we got to see some of the dynamics between the two girls. Maddie was always asking for Ella's help and get in trouble and Ella would help cover for her with the parents as well as even doing her school work or taking her tests for her. Ella was strong and beautiful and loved. She just didn't see it as much because she focused on how everyone adored Maddie and when you have two different personalities like that sometimes I guess it's hard to realize that people love you when you compare to how it looks when the other lets people in more and you think that is the only way that it looks to be loved. Ella was certainly more independent and she didn't let people help her as much, so she compared to how Maddie let everyone help her and was more out in the open. Ella had a best friend named Josh and I love their dynamics they watch anime together and they were both applying for the same art school. They had a really deep connection and I really liked him. But when Ella woke up in the hospital all that she saw was Maddie's friends, Maddie's boyfriend and her parents thinking she was Maddie and telling her so they were so glad that she was alive. She did have some amnesia right after the car accident and when they told her that she was Maddie so she believed it because her mind was so confused. But she pretty quickly realized that she was really Ella but since she felt like what everyone really wanted was for Maddie to be the one that survived, she decided that through her guilt she was going to give everyone Maddie-- that she was going to give Maddie the life that Ella thought she deserved. Ella was angry during the accident and she was trying to pull over and lost control of the car so she felt like it was her fault that Maddie died. She couldn't reconcile the guilt that she felt because her sister was the one who died and she felt like it was her fault and then she couldn't get over that she was angry at her when she was dying beside her in the car. Also that their last words to each other weren't kind but treating one another apart. Ella tries to fit into the life that Maddie had but it was really hard on her. Not only did they have the different personalities, different interests, different circles of friends, she soon realizes that Alex wasn't quite what he had seemed and that there were a lot of secrets that Maddie was keeping and balancing, Since Ella stepping into this life without really knowing anything about the secrets or what happened at the party when Maddie was so upset and wanted to come and get her. So there were some confusing relationships that she didn't quite know how to navigate. She had a really hard time also trying to fit into the perfectly dressed and made up and hair fixed girl who everyone expected her to be. She was still the comfotable girl who preferred to be off the radar to everyone except for Josh and Maddie. People overlooked the out of character responses because obviously they see a girl who's just lost their sister, a girl who was driving the car and they don't expect it to be Ella because she says that she's Maddie. But Josh, Ella's best friend, who Ella wanted more with, but didn't realize he loved her back, is one of the first to suspect or at least voice his opinion that she wasn't really Maddie, but Ella pretending or so confused. But he had been pushed away at the hospital because everyone though Ella was the one who died, and Ella didn't see the ones who were grieving for her through the Maddie haze and her pain. I was very caught up in the story and while I can understand why Ella wanted to pretend to be Maddie at it was frustrating at times because I knew that she was living a lie and she was having a very very hard time with it. I didn't know how I wanted this story to play out because there was no way that Maddie was really going to come back to life and it really seem like there was no way that Ella was going to be happy trying to fit into the life of a dead girl who while was her twin also is very different from her and had a different kind of relationship with the people around her. Once Ella figured out some of her sister's dark secrets and saw some of the web of guilt, lies, and deception that Maddie was involved in, that finally gave her an incentive to act. She figured out a lot of about Maddie's regrets. I liked how the ending finally played out and the decisions that were made. The epilogue was especially sweet and gave the ending that I realized I craved for her. Nothing was perfect, but there was a balance. Bottom Line: Emotional story of a twin with guilt over her sisters death, and who steps in to fill her shoes, but it is more than she could have imagined.
This is the second book I've read by Trisha Leaver, and I've already noticed a trend in her writing style, even across different genres. She is the Queen of the Reveal. Leaver has this way of releasing bits of information that keeps you engaged and turning the pages. At the perfect time, too. Right when I was like... ok, I really need answers about this plot point, I turn the page and lose myself in the new plot development. The premise of THE SISTERS WE KEEP is great. I honestly can't see anyone doubting that. And, if I'm being honest, it worried me a bit. I've come across many a book where the premise was mind blowing, but, in the end, I was left disappointed. With THE SISTERS WE KEEP, that didn't happen. The characters were complex, the plot was layered, there were things I expected, but also things I didn't see coming. The writing style was conversational (something I look for in books) and easy to read. And on more than one occasion, the book pulled on my heartstrings, especially when I put myself in the parent's shoes. Teen and adults alike will both enjoy this book. Pick it up and see for yourself!
"But no matter what I did or how far I went for her, she'd keep me on the outside, five safe steps away from her and her inner circle." Identical twins Ella and Maddy used to be inseparable until Maddy started to care more about field hockey and the popular crowd than she did about her quiet, artsy sister. Ella still always come when Maddy calls. Even if it means sneaking out of her room and away from her art school portfolio in the middle of the night to pick Maddy up. Instead of a quick drive and a painless trip with both of them home in half an hour, Ella's car goes off the road in the midst of a bitter argument. After, Ella is in the hospital, battered and with little memory of the accident. Maddy is dead. Surrounded by friends and family who believe she is Maddy--convinced Maddy will be missed more than she ever will and filled with guilt over the accident--Ella makes a choice. She will become Maddy. She'll live the life Maddy deserved. She'll make things right. Ella soon realizes that her sister's life is filled with secrets which Ella will have to understand while she tries to keep them. As Ella tries to make sense of the sister she barely knew she will also have to decide if she can continue living a lie or finally step out of her sister's shadow in The Secrets We Keep (2015) by Trisha Leaver. The Secrets We Keep is a story about family and grieving but also a mystery as Ella tries to understand what Maddy had done that left her crying and desperate for Ella to pick her up on the night of the accident. Leaver begins the story with a prologue telling readers exactly what Ella has done and why she feels so strongly that she has to pretend to be Maddy (along with numerous circumstances stacking up to lead to Ella's initial mis-identification as Maddy). The book then backs up to the night of the accident as readers learn more about the sisters' estrangement and currently strained relationship. There is no way to get around the fact that Maddy is a stereotypically mean popular girl before her death. An identifier which she never gets to transcend because she dies and instead it is Ella left picking up the pieces. Unfortunately shifting the start of the novel to before the accident (and before Ella truly makes her choice as she is swept up in the post-accident confusion at the hospital) neutralizes a lot of the initial urgency. For the first seventy-five pages of the novel, readers know know exactly what happens after the accident which means that readers also know more than Ella herself. Within The Secrets We Keep, Ella's decision to become her sister makes perfect sense as the motivations stem from a deep sense of guilt combined with grief. But the premise begins to wear thin as the plot progresses and Ella's secret begins to unravel. Elements of romance and mystery move the story forward but never integrate perfectly with the main plot of Ella making peace with her sister's death. The addition of an awkward love triangle between Ella, her best friend Josh and Josh's two-years-younger girlfriend (who Ella strongly dislikes--and maybe feels threatened by--while refusing to acknowledge possibly having romantic feelings for Josh herself) further dilutes the core elements of the story which had so much promise. Despite having all of the right pieces, including a great heroine and strong premise, The Secrets We Keep fails to meet its potential and instead becomes very familiar as the plot moves in directions previously handled more notably by Zevin and Oliver among others. The Secrets We Keep blends several genres to deliver elements of romance and suspense within a story about loss and grieving that will appeal to readers looking for more of the same. Possible Pairings: I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell, Fracture by Megan Miranda, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, Falling into Place by Amy Zhang *An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review consideration*