I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
Characters who become self destructive after experiencing a traumatic loss are intriguing and interesting to me to read about. Their stories take me to all kinds of emotional places, and Keep It Secret is the kind of book I love to read for this reason. I love taking an emotional journey right along with the characters.
After Ava's father dies from a car accident when she is only thirteen years old, Ava not only has her grief to work through but also must deal with fending for herself after her mother becomes debilitated with crushing depression. Throw in the fact that Ava is a teenager and is going through all of the ups and downs one goes through during those years, and I think you can see why she turns to sex, drugs, and alcohol. Anything to numb the pain.
Five years after the death of her father, Ava and her mother move in with Ava's aunt, uncle, and cousin. Ava and her cousin, Vanessa, used to be as close as sisters, and they're looking forward to becoming close once again. The problem? A boy named Gabriel Mason.
Vanessa has had a different kind of struggle in life than Ava. Her mother is controlling and overbearing, buying love instead of showing it, and criticizing rather than caring. Her father allows her mother to have her way rather than risk rocking the boat. Vanessa has grown up sheltered and involved in so many different activities she doesn't have time to relax or socialize.
With both of these girls hurting in their own ways, I looked forward to seeing them grow close again and help each other work through their pain together as a united front. But then they let a boy get between them, and while I was disappointed this happened, it becomes much more complicated than a boy coming between two cousins. There are a lot of issues surrounding all three of them that make this situation anything but simple, and it was an up and down emotional ride for me as a reader!
I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next book and finding out what happens next. I love both Vanessa and Ava for different reasons and also embrace them despite their flaws, which make them more realistic to me anyway. I'm a new Olivia Snow fan!