Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves

The Secrets of Lily Graves
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Mystery

I have loved Sarah Strohmeyer's previous YA novels so I was super excited to read this one. I was also intrigued that this one had a darker feel to it than her previous ones. Typically Strohmeyer's heroines are sweet, down-to-earth sorts with great hearts. Lily Graves has those qualities, but she also adds some new layers to the mix.

Lily lives in a funeral home with her mother, grandmother, and aunt. Being constantly surrounded by death effects people in different ways. Lily's mother has become a health nut in order to extend her life as much as possible. Boo, Lily's aunt, uses tattoos as her coping mechanism. Lily becomes fascinated with the dead and how different cultures view this human rite of passage. She wears mainly shades of black and gray, has an intimate knowledge of human anatomy (particularly concerning where best to place embalming needles), and a desire to take over the family business someday. While Lily's preoccupation with death may seem creepy, it really isn't. Lily isn't a goth or an attention seeker. She dresses and acts the way she does because it is something that genuinely interests her. I was thrown at first because Lily is so different from the past Strohmeyer characters in appearance, but I quickly learned that she has the same intellect, compassion, and strength of character that I have grown to expect from the females in Strohmeyer's novels. 

I tend to gravitate towards novels with strong female characters and strong female relationships. There is plenty on both fronts in this novel. I loved the bond between Lily and the women in her family. It was interesting to see the different generations living in one household.

In addition, I also enjoyed the romance in this one. It felt realistic and didn't happen suddenly. It was also nice that it didn't dominate the plot. I prefer when the romance enhances a novel rather than commandeering it.

The plot of this one is intriguing. A local girl, Erin, who was considered by many to be "a perfect angel" has shown up dead. Originally it is thought that she committed suicide, but an investigation reveals that she was murdered. All eyes immediately turn to Lily Graves and her friend, Matt, the former boyfriend of the deceased. Lily and Matt have been spending a lot of time together studying US History and rumors swirl around the town that Matt was cheating on Erin. The closeness between Lily and Matt makes them suspects. The pair decides to take matters into their own hands and find out what really happened to Erin and who is responsible for her untimely death.

I will say this novel freaked me out on a few occasions; I preferred reading it during daylight hours. I did figure out the identity of the murderer fairly quickly, but I am not sure all readers will arrive at the correct conclusion as quickly. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, but it isn't my favorite Strohmeyer novel. (That honor still resides with Smart Girls Get What They Want.) I loved seeing this author go in a different direction; it truly shows her skills and versatility as a writer.

One Last Gripe: Erin's attitude towards Lily bothered me - especially as information was revealed throughout the novel. It also irked me that more was not done about the bullying issues that flared up from time to time.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I enjoyed forming a theory about the identity of the killer and piecing together evidence to prove it.

First Sentence: "Hey. Lily. Wait!"

Favorite Character: Lily

Least Favorite Character: Stone Bone

With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.


  1. Good review. Just got this one in the mail so glad it has some good reviews out.

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I'd love to hear your thoughts once you've had a chance to read it.

  2. This is high on my May TBR. I hope I like it as much as you!

    1. Thanks for checking out my review. I hope that you'll enjoy it too.


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