Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
In this powerful, affecting debut, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed
Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.
When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.
Julie has never been able to get over the death of her high school best friend Reba, not even ten years later and she’s not happy to be back in her small hometown, but the allure of a diary Reba left behind is too strong for her to ignore. This is told mainly through Julie’s eyes in 2008, though there are a few brief chapters from August and Toby as well. (Toby is Julie’s cousin who she lived with after her parents died.) There are also chapters from Reba’s diary in 1997 where the truth about the months and days leading up to her death are finally revealed. I especially liked the diary entries as it was the only way to see what really happened and they were also clearly labeled. I say this because the other chapters were not labeled and I think it would’ve helped to do this in order to avoid confusion.
This was a slow burn of a book, one that takes a bit of patience in the beginning, but if you stick with it, things speed up around the halfway point and the suspense heightens. When August and Julie finally get their hands on the diary everything they thought they knew about Reba is shattered. This girl was hiding some serious secrets and nothing is as they thought it was.
I liked some of the issues this one touched on, it showed how racism was still sadly prevalent in the late nineties and how this affected so many lives in an negative way. Harrigan has a really beautiful writing style and this was a solid debut that I had minor issues with, but nothing that ruined my reading experience. If you like a read that takes a little time to warm up, but still gradually reels you in, give this one a try.
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.
The publisher is hosting a fun giveaway for a summer reads prize pack! You can enter here.