If You Loved Pretty Little Liars But Wanted More Gay: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown | Book Review

Featured image for blog post: dark blue-grey background, book cover of The Truth About Keeping Secrets, and author photo of Savannah Brown

I don’t know about you, but I was pretty obsessed with Pretty Little Liars. The overlap of aesthetic teen drama and creepy mystery was just impossible to resist, no matter how trashy the show got at times. Add my obsession with Savannah Brown’s old YouTube videos and her beautiful poetry, and The Truth About Keeping Secrets is basically a dream come true.

Death & Small-Town Mystery

Set in Pleasant Hills, Ohio, Savannah Brown’s The Truth About Keeping Secrets follows Sydney, a high-school teenager whose father has just passed away. On the day of the funeral, she receives an anonymous text. The sender seems to have wanted her father dead – and also really, really hates her. Then the school’s homecoming queen surprisingly shows up to the funeral, confirming Sydney’s suspicion that something strange is happening around her.

The Truth About Keeping Secrets is a gripping mystery, a raw exploration of grief, and a delicious, slow-burn f/f romance. Despite its similarities with Pretty Little Liars, it doesn’t fall into any of the show’s trashy cliches and problematic tropes, serving only plenty of suspense and family secrets. The novel moves between moments of apathetic desperation and intense longing and obsessiveness. All the while, a breathtaking writing style and edge-of-your-seat pacing drive it forward.

The Truth About Keeping Secrets

The reveal of the whodunnit is not mind-blowing, but it is a thoroughly satisfying climax. Brown skilfully foreshadows the truth with an unputdownable lead-up and an unexpected take on homophobia and abuse. As the reality behind the characters’ motives comes to light, the urgency and danger of the situation are painfully tangible.

Sydney completely stole my heart, and I was very much invested in her safety, despite usually preferring sidekicks to narrators. Complex relationships dominate the character interactions in this novel, bringing out striking flaws that make Sydney’s friends and family particularly lovable. The nostalgic placement of Sydney’s memories made her hometown almost a character in itself.

With her talent for YouTube and reading out her own poetry on her channel, Savannah Brown is a fantastic audiobook narrator. Through her voice, the gentle humour peppered through The Truth About Keeping Secrets takes on the shape of a shared inside joke, while sadness and fear become palpable to the bone. I highly recommend listening to it.

Want more f/f book recommendations? Check out my review of The Lady’s Guide To Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite. Or how about a list of books about grief and loss?

If you’ve read The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown and would like to share your thoughts, leave a comment down below! You can also get in touch with me on Instagram and Goodreads for more bookish talk.

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