Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What's worse is she got away with it.
First I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher Sourcebooks Landmark for giving me a copy of this book.
My eyes were completely glued to Secrets of Southern Girls and I sped through it in one day. This book was tragic and the people in it were so messed up, almost every one of them. From the first page when we meet Julie we can see that she has issues with love and men that are deeply rooted in the past. Then there is her best friend Reba who died, and Julie blames herself, but she finds out that there are two other people who also feel responsible for Reba's death. I won't spoil who they are or why they feel responsible. The less you know ahead of time the better. I was expecting this to be a thriller with a murderer on the loose, but that isn't what this is at all. This is a mystery, but the mystery is more about revealing who the characters really are and what made them do the things they did than a who-dun-it.
Not too far into the book we also meet August who was Reba's first love. He has tracked Julie down after over a decade, because he needs to find closure so he can move on. He thinks that closure will come through a journal Reba kept and intended to give him the night she died. He also believes that Julie has the journal. She doesn't, but she agrees to help him find it, so they travel back to the tiny Mississippi town that they both left behind years ago and never intended to return to.
I didn't find any of the characters extremely likable except for August, and that usually affects how much I enjoy a book, but this time around all the characters were so well drawn and I loved the way the story unfolded as every sordid detail is uncovered through journal entries and memories. And I do mean sordid, which is not usually my cup of tea, but this book just drew in so much. My only real complaint is that the journal entries didn't really read as journal entries of a teen girl. They were written more like flashbacks.
Like I said, just about all the characters were hard to like, but we come to understand why they are the way they are, why they are so messed up, and so they grew on me despite the things they did and the choices they made. I was even able to empathize with Toby who was the most despicable character in the book to me. He was just so well drawn and his emotions felt so raw and real.
After finishing this I was left thinking about how we never can tell if we really know someone, and how profoundly the choices we make and the lies we tell can affect ourselves and others around us for years to come.
Content: Some language, sex, underage drinking, and drug use.
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