Monday, December 14, 2015

The Secrets We Keep, by Trisha Leaver

Ella has never managed to be popular like her identical twin sister Maddy.  Instead, she has quietly enjoyed being an artist, hanging out with her friend Josh, and avoiding Maddy's mean friends.   But Ella's resented Maddy's sense of entitlement and the love which their parents seem to lavish so easily on Maddy.  Then, one tragic night, there is a car accident and Maddy is killed.  Ella, however, is mistaken for her sister and people assume it was Ella that died.  Seeing the grief pouring out for her sister, Ella decides to swap identities and pretend to be Maddy.  Doing so becomes much harder than Ella ever imagined.

Leaver goes through great pains to explain how the story is even remotely plausible, but I think that misses the point.  While this novel is a fairly pedestrian high school drama, full of mean girls and jealous plots, it has a more interesting parallel track.  In this higher story, Ella's struggle to be her sister becomes a means to grieve for her, moving beyond both her childhood love and her adolescent jealousy to achieve a mature acceptance.  Seen in this light, the story (while still predictable) is quite clever and original.

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