Book Review: Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

24155632Title: Sudden Secrets
Author: C. Lee McKenzie
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

One Secret

Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.
One Mystery
Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street-flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see.
Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.
Another Secret
In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry.
Then Cleo happens.

Sudden Secrets offers contemporary YA at its finest, with a protagonist teenagers will easily relate to. Yet it it also features a mystery and unfortunately, that part falls a little flat.

Cleo and her family struggle to heal after her kid sister passes away. They move to another town, into another house, and try to make the best of it. But her father has run halfway across the world where he works on archeological dig sites and tries to perserve ancient artifacts, leaving her, her mom and her granddad, to deal with the pieces of the family they once were. All of them struggle with guilt, with sorrow, and the author does an amazing job portraying the family’s grief. This is the strong point of the book. The characters feel realistic and have their little quirks (like grandpa and his pet snake, Clyve), and their sorrow feels as real as they do.

After moving, Cleo makes a few friends. She makes them rather fast though, and this didn’t seem very realistic. They do make an interesting group though, with a fun group dynamic. I liked Rudy and Stacy. Although their personalities were quite different, they did match nicely with Cleo’s personality.

The part that didn’t work for me was the mystery. Cleo’s house had an abandoned house next to it, but sometimes the lights turned out. I was expecting the mystery to be a little spooky, or at least suspenseful, but it turned out rather dull and unrealistic. I was like: so that’s why you stayed in the house for decades? Uhm, right. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the reasoning behind it, is a little over the top, and then the sudden change of heart at the end is strange too. I think I would’ve preferred the book without the mystery of the abandoned house, or at least with a mystery that made more snese.

The writing and language were phenomenal, and the dialogue fitted the characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so impressed with an author’s writing style.

If you’re looking for a realistic YA novel that deals with guilt and pain, I’d highly recommend this one.

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