Teen love, angst, secrets and lies make up a lot of realistic YA fiction. Fortunately, those topics can also add up to some of the best storylines, as in Courtney C. Stevens’ second novel.
It’s hard enough to be a teen facing typical teen issues. But when Sadie is severely physically scarred and her best friend, Trent, is killed in a car accident, Sadie’s world is put on pause. She doesn’t want to return to school. She doesn’t want to face—literally—her friends. And she can’t get past the way her friends Gina and Gray were involved in the crash.
Sadie turns to Trent’s brother, Max, who provides a compassionate ear—and soon, a bit more, as their relationship blossoms. But as that happens, mysterious notes about Sadie’s past start appearing in her mailbox, and she finds it difficult to trust anyone. As as her thoughts turn more to the past, to times she shared with Trent and the gang, she wonders if any of them will ever fully recover, physically or mentally.
Secrets and lies—as indicated in the title—plague the many complex relationships in this novel, which addresses some heavy topics. But Stevens keeps the atmosphere appropriately light, as readers peer into Sadie and Max’s budding relationship and as the quartet of friends reunites for paintball and a road trip to the “Fountain of Youth.”
Carefully unveiled secrets come out at the end, leading to a conclusion that is believable and satisfying. This is a nice, relatable bit of realistic YA fiction.