Author: Shana Norris
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: February 10th 2015, The Studio
Pages: 247 Pages, Kindle Edition
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and The Studio
Rating: 2.5/5 Cupcakes!
All Hannah wanted was a summer break from being “perfect Hannah Cohen” and a chance to forget about the devastating family secret that could ruin her seemingly perfect life. So when she takes off for her eccentric aunt’s house in the mountains of North Carolina and everyone makes one big (wrong) assumption about her past, Hannah figures that it’s easier to live a lie than have to face the truth.
She never expected to make any real friends, like the hilarious and spontaneous Kate and Ashton, who drag her to late night bonfires and ice cream marathons. And she especially never counted on meeting Jude Westmore, the brooding bad boy next door with gray eyes and permanent oil smudges on his fingers, or that he would ever take an interest in her.
Between moonlit movie nights in the bed of Jude’s truck and nearly romantic Ferris Wheel rides, Hannah’s old life seems father away then ever, but can she keep her secret, or is the truth worth the risk of losing everything, including Jude?
*The quotes that have been used are from the ARC and are subject to change*
When I saw this on Netgalley I thought it sounded sweet and charming, a summer read that would whisk me away to the lands of never-ending sunshine, ice creams and the glowing possibility of summer romance, but, unfortunately this book didn't live up to my heightened expectations. I don't know why my expectations were even heightened because the reviews for this book weren't all too good and I've never read books by the author before, but hey, at least I'm embracing my inner optimist.
The Secrets Between You and Me is a story that has a plot similar to books I've read before and the author didn't really bring anything original to the story, although the blurb made it seem as if the story would have charming qualities.
We have Hannah Cohen, a rich girl with a seemingly perfect life who secretly has quite a few troubles. She then goes to live in a more rural area where she hopes to discover inner happiness. While she's there she attracts the attention of the town's "bad boy" - who isn't really a bad boy - and they fall in love but then said people do stupid things and there's a lot of teen angst. I was hoping the author would bring something original to the story but she didn't unfortunately, so this book was a kind of miss for me.
This book, to be honest, bored me. I was very bored and when I'm reading a book, I like to be on the edge of my seat, flying through the pages and not being able to think of anything but said book. But while reading TSBYaM, I would read about 4 pages and then I'd go on Youtube, or I'd read a couple of chapters and then go play with my dogs, there was nothing to sustain my interest. I was this close to DNFing, but I forced myself to push through in hopes that it would get better - which it didn't, not really. It's a fairly short book, less than 300 pages, and it took me 3 or 4 days to read it. I generally read 600+ books in that amount of time - it really felt like a chore to get through it.
The characters weren't all that likable. I'm not sure if it's because I was in a semi-reading slump or what but none of the characters felt authentic to me. By the time I'd finished the book, I didn't feel as if I knew them, but merely as if I'd just been told random things about them instead. However, this is the companion novel, so perhaps if I'd read the first book first then it would've been easier for me to understand the situation? I'm not sure. Hannah just wasn't a very likable character to me. She would act as if she was better than everyone but then she'd talk about what a mess she is, even though technically she wasn't the mess but her parents were her. I wanted to feel sorry for her but the author didn't write the book in a way that I could connect all that well to the characters and the story. Although there was said depth, I didn't feel it. I didn't feel Hannah's tough time or how she felt about her parents. It felt as if the author was merely telling and not showing. I also didn't really like her from the beginning because of this (after a guy stopped and helped her change her car's tire):
'"You don't owe me anything. Just doing my good deed for the day."Yes I agree, that is very presumptuous. Now, I understand it's because she was raised to believe that people always did something in exchange for something else, but still. It irked me. Another thing I didn't like about her was she lied. A lot. I felt really sorry for Jude as he'd experienced such tragedy and heartbreak in his life due to his brother dying, but then freaking Hannah makes out as if her father died when he was in actual fact alive.
"You've got to want something."
"You've already said thank you, that's enough." He pulled the truck's driver side door open, which squeaked in protest.
"I'm not looking for a boyfriend,"I said.
He wrinkled his nose. "Neither am I."
My neck flushed hot. "I mean, I'm not going out with you for changing my tire. Just so you know."
"That's a little presumptuous," he said.'
I don't know why she did that, but it was wrong. I understand how painful it must have been for her to say that her father, the prestigious owner of America's top bank, was actually a *spoiler*prescribed pills addict*spoiler* but that's far better than leading people on to believe that her father was dead. I mean the way she phrased it made people think he was dead, and when they said something like "I'm so sorry for your loss" she could've said "No, he isn't dead but I'd rather not talk about it." and then change the subject. I also thought it was really bad of her saying something like that when she knew Jude had actually experienced the death of a close family member. You just don't do something like that.
I did like Jude, he was the one character that I (mainly) liked. He was funny:
"Do you love being difficult?" I asked.and
"It's my specialty," he said with a grin.
'"Are there any other secrets I should know about you?"He was sweet, although he did use the "L" word too soon but still, he was sweet without being too cheesy and I appreciate that he respected her enough to not push her to do things she didn't want to do, and that he said to her that he'd rather be friends with her than a couple, instead of not being anything at all. Although there was this one time where they were trying to be just friends and he tried holding her hand and Hannah was like:
Jude tilted his head to the side, thinking for a moment.
"I don't like carrots."
I elbowed him hard in the side.'
But otherwise, I really liked Jude's character and he seemed to become more confident and happier which was a pleasant change to see!
The other characters were fine, they weren't all that interesting and none of them stood out particularly. There were Kate and Ashton, the two girls her age who she befriended. And there was her Aunt Lydia, her mom and her dad. I didn't really like any of them that much and none of them seemed particularly real to me. Kate and Ashton were nice though and they were wonderful friends to Hannah and were very supportive, which was a great thing to see! Her Aunt was quite nice. Her mom was terrible: extremely conceited, narcissistic and obnoxious - well done to Hannah for trying to break away from that! And her dad was alright, despite the turmoil he'd put his family through.
The plot was also average. It quite bored me at times as it often felt like nothing actually happened. Basic, average day stuff occurred (which is what happens in contemporaries) but the author didn't write it in a way that made me excited or that made me want to keep reading, which was a pity as it could've been a really cute, heart-warming novel!
My main problem with this book though is that I don't feel as if we got to see anything deeper than what was shown on the surface. I felt like I was a bird, desperately pecking at the icy ground but unable to get the worm. HA, that's quite a good analogy, right?
No? Okay, then. But that's what it feels like. It's like I can see there's more things beneath the surface that I really want to know and I want to understand, things just beyond my reach which would contribute to making the story seem real. I really wanted to connect with this book but I just couldn't. I didn't ever feel properly involved in the story, I felt like I was supposed to feel a certain way for the characters but I could never muster enough sympathy for them as they weren't particularly likable nor fleshed out.
Overall, The Secrets Between You and Me was a novel that fell short of my expectations. I loved the idea of it and it sounded like a contemporary that would bring me great pleasure but unfortunately it brought me boredom. The characters were one dimensional - although I did like Jude - and they did things that irked me. The pacing of the story was quite slow and I often found myself putting the book down and then dreading to pick it back up again. However, one positive element of the story is that the author had a smooth way of writing. She didn't prattle on and her sentences weren't halted. I will give this author another try as she does have potential and there were some quote-worthy sentences incorporated throughout The Secrets Between You and Me. Such as:
'It was what life did, it kept moving on even when you couldn't.'
'...there was beauty in imperfection. Art didn't have to be made from traditional methods, and life didn't have to follow traditional paths.'
The Secrets Between You and Me had potential, but I felt as if there wasn't any true depth to the novel. I do quite like the author's writing style though, so I shall try her other books in the future!
I give it: 2.5/5 Cupcakes!