Author: Lily Velez
My rating: 4 hearts
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: November 8th 2015
Publisher: Blue Typewriter Press
Synopsis: One year. That's how long it's been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.
Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something's different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smile—all of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can't even begin to recognize, much less understand.
Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, he’s convinced he can win her trust again, and he’s committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.
But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she's determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.
The only problem is it seems her heart hasn’t quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, she’ll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one...long before Sully’s resolve ever does.
The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength. (synopsis from Goodreads)
My thoughts: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Some things, I loved. Other things, I hated.
I’m going to start with the things I didn’t like/hated. At the beginning of the book, and through most of it, there were a lot of memories. And I get that memories are really important for the story, since Cadence and Sully has a lot of history, but I felt like there were too many memories, which made the book very slow-paced and hard to get into. Also, it was way too much “it brought me back to…”. Everything – like seriously everything – reminded Cadence and Sully of each other. Every time something happened, it was interrupted with a memory, because they couldn’t do anything without thinking about something they did together. Sometimes it felt like they didn’t have a life outside of each other.
I didn’t really like the characters in the beginning, especially not Sully. I was annoyed with him most of the time, and when I weren’t… Okay, I was always annoyed with him in the beginning. He was seriously like the worst brother ever. After he broke up with Cadence, he pretty much stopped being present in his brother’s life. Now, I get that it was hard, since he loved Cadence, but, I repeat, he broke up with her. She tried to convince him they should keep seeing each other, but he refused. And then he goes all AWOL on his brother because of it. Kind of makes me want to hit something… preferably Sully.
“In your reality, the world only ever revolves around you and your drama with Cadence. She’s all you care about. Too bad she obviously doesn’t give a damn about you.”
This is what Spencer, Sully’s younger brother, says, and he is so right. Cadence is the only thing he thinks about. He worries about how he can solve things with her, what’s wrong with her (not that there’s something wrong with her, but she does have some issues, that’s what I mean), how he can help her and be there for her, but never how he can take care of his younger brother, who has no other family than Sully and would sometimes need him there, if just for a hug or a “how was your day?”. Spencer really needs his brother, but Sully isn’t ever there. It annoyed me to no end.
The last thing that I didn’t like about this book was the romance. It is supposed to be a romance book, but throughout a big part of the book, Cadence and Sully isn’t on speaking terms. I don’t know what went wrong exactly, but the romance didn’t feel real or believable, which is very important, considering this is a romance book.
Enough about the bad stuff. There was two major things that I really liked, that almost made up for all the bad things. The first is that the characters grow throughout the book, which also is why I didn’t hate Sully in the end, because he realized his mistakes and learned from them, and, ultimately, became a better person. In this book, there is some major character development, especially for Cadence. Cadence is depressed in the beginning of the book, she shuts everyone out, including her parents and her friends. She doesn’t talk to anyone. But she gets help, she learns that there are better ways than to shut everyone out, and she starts letting people in instead, one person at a time. It’s a long, slow process, but that’s what it’s like in reality, so it was good.
The next good thing is just that; that Cadence got help, and that the story really showed how important it is to get help if you have problems, even if it isn’t depression, that it can get better, that you can’t do it on your own, but need other people’s help, but that you have to want to get better, and to accept help, and that change like that doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that happens over time, that can take a lot of time, but it’s not hopeless.
This is a subject that is really important to me, because I’ve had problems, too – nothing close to as serious as depression, but it certainly wasn’t easy, and I needed help. Sometime along the way, I realized how hard it was to get help, and how many people – including me, at one point – were afraid to ask for help, afraid that people wouldn’t take it seriously, that there wouldn’t be any help to get. I think a lot of kids and teens feel like this, which sucks.
So, I would just like to thank Lily Velez for writing a book about this, because I hope that with more books and other stuff like this, more people could get help, and, most importantly, dare to ask for help.
A really sweet, moving, relatable story. Lily should write a sequel, maybe about Spencer or Haley. That would be so awesome!