The Secret History of Us

Image result for the secret history of usFirst Lines: The girl he pulls to the surface is dead.  I know it the moment I see her.  The camera zooms in, shaking a little as she comes into focus.  Even in the golden lights shining down from the bridge, her skin is an unnatural shade of blue.

For me, Jessi Kirby is a reliable author that I will keep coming back to time and time again.  She always writes deep stories with relatable characters that punch me right in the feels.  And when I saw this at the library, I had a feeling this would do the same.

After a near-drowning accident and being in a coma for days, Olivia finally wakes up…and realizes she doesn’t remember what happened.  Not just the accident, but the last four years.  Nothing, all of high school erased.  She doesn’t remember her boyfriend Matt at all, doesn’t remember why she’s not friends with her bestie Jules anymore, none of it.  That’s when it dawns on her that the accident may not have taken her life, but it took something just as important: her memory, who she’s become as a person.  The more she tries to remember, the worse things get.  And it doesn’t help that as she tries to figure out who she is, everyone keeps telling her who she was.  And then there’s Walker, the guy who saved her.  The more Olivia tries to talk to him, to find out what happened, the more he pulls away.  As her feelings grow toward him, tensions rise with Matt.  And Olivia realizes that there are plenty of secrets being kept from her.

There’s just something about Kirby that always draws me in.

In this story, we meet Liv, who is an interesting character.  People keep trying to tell her maybe it’s a good thing she doesn’t remember high school–who wouldn’t want to forget those awkward years? But Liv doesn’t see it that way. Not only has she completely forgotten her boyfriend of two years, but she’s suddenly not friends with one of her best friends from middle school. Her room is covered in memories she no longer has and everyone has some input on who she was before.

Of everything, I thought this was an interesting message about identity. Who are we? Are we the memories we create? Are we the person we are with our friends and family or the person we are when we’re alone? And how can we change that identity? It was fascinating because Liv isn’t exactly a blank slate, but she’s missing four years of her life, a time when most of us underwent radical changes. On top of that, the people around her are gently lying to her about who she is because they want to paint who she was in the best light–but it leaves Liv feeling like she has no idea who she is now.

The characters are a little shallow. Flat. Liv isn’t, but she’s the main character. And while I enjoyed the other characters in the story, especially Liv’s brother, not many of them had a whole lot of personality. And I suppose I can’t fully blame the story on that because Liv is pretty self-centered through all of this as she struggles to remember anything.

But I liked the plot. I liked how things unfolded and how Liv’s conflict played out. It kept my interest and I ended up finishing this book pretty quickly.

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