on November 8th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
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I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
One year. That's how long it's been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.
Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something's different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smileÔÇöall of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can't even begin to recognize, much less understand.
Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, heÔÇÖs convinced he can win her trust again, and heÔÇÖs committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.
But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she's determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.
The only problem is it seems her heart hasnÔÇÖt quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, sheÔÇÖll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one...long before SullyÔÇÖs resolve ever does.
The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength
Recently a friend commented on the emotional depth she seemed to be finding in the NYA sheÔÇÖs been reading lately. I have to say The Secrets We Kept by Lily Velez is a great example. The issues explored fall in line with any examination on relationships and the kind of responses youÔÇÖd expect from the characters. But this is not because of age, but rather circumstance. ┬áThe authorÔÇÖs use of backstory and reconciliation makes for a very smart read. I nearly finished the story in one sitting and I read deep into the night. I hit about 80% before I was forced to put it down.
Built during those formative years and while living in foster housing, the two main characters Sully and Cadence, share a long and intense history. The story premise, how it was flipped upside down in the last year before Cadence graduates high school is where the mystery lies. The story is told from both of their POVs,┬á┬áin the present and through flashbacks. So not only do we get both of their perspectives but we also get to see their budding relationship. This made is so easy to FEEL their connection and to sympathize for their struggles.
As the oldest, Sully has always been the house leader and his sentimentality and steady nature make him immediately endearing. HeÔÇÖs one of those kids that learns a lesson once and thatÔÇÖs all it takes. His ÔÇ£streetÔÇØ knowledge and reasoning skills are good so most of the decisions he makes are guided by this, but he also has strong instincts. However, in the case of Cadence and their future, he makes a ÔÇ£rookieÔÇØ decision that although logical, isnÔÇÖt so smart.
What I found very powerful were scenes with Cadence, as she tries to dig herself out of a year long depression. Her vulnerability is driven by those fear and its intensely moving to see how she is guided to take chances and start learning to have more faith in people. Considering her life in the New York foster system, she been a very lucky and Sully is a huge part of that. But he is at the center of her despair. There was something about Cadence that resonated with me. While her isolation is mostly self-imposed she is simply at odds with the world. When the one person you trust the most makes a bad call on your behalf, how do you move past it? But Cadence owns her recovery and sheÔÇÖs level headed about this, which I think shows a lot in who she is.
The story is propped up by secondary characters that are important to Sully and Cadence, both as individuals and in support of their relationship (mostly). It would be remiss not to mention SullyÔÇÖs brother Spencer, and both Novah and Haley in support of Cadence. These three characters add so much to the direction of the story and serve to expose both good and bad aspects of Sully and Cadence.
The Secrets We Kept was a great read and all throughout I was storing up my guesses as to what the BIG secret(s) were. Although this is a defining moment, the story is more about how fear and suppositions paralyze us, why we make choices ÔÇ£anticipatingÔÇØ certain reactions and how faulty that can be. Ms Velez delivers an outstanding first novel!
~Review by Cyndi
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