Book Review: The Secret History of Us

The Secret History of Us
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Contemporary

Memories are something we so often take for granted, but what would you do if the past 4-5 years of your life was erased in a moment? How would you start over? Would you choose a completely new path or try to find your way back to your old life?

These questions take front and center when Olivia (aka Liv), the main character, wakes up to find herself in a hospital bed, but not knowing how she got there. The opening chapter focuses on Liv trying to open her eyes and communicate with her parents. When she finally wakes to see their worried expressions, she realizes that something is truly wrong. As things unfold, she learns that she was in a horrific car accident with her boyfriend, Matt, and the fact that she is alive is nothing short of a miracle. 

Liv is grateful for her second chance at life, but the life she wakes up in is not the one she remembers. Her last memory is from the summer before high school, but she graduated high school and was preparing to head to college with Matt. The accident has put her future in limbo and she may be changing her course. She begins to seek out old friendships, old hobbies, and the chance to connect with Walker, the guy who saved her life that fateful night.

Watching Liv try to piece together her life without her memories was bittersweet. I was aware of how lucky she was to have survived the accident, but things just didn't feel right to me. I knew there were some big secrets she couldn't remember that would make an impact on her decisions and relationships. I found some of these twists to be a little predictable, but I still enjoyed the read.

While this is not my favorite Kirby book I have read, that honor still lies with Things We Know by Heart, I did find it compelling and hard to put down. I was deeply invested in Liv's recovery process. I wanted her to find her happy ending even if her memory didn't return.

One Last Gripe: Aside from a few predictable twists, I felt like this one needed more. The ending was quick and left me wanting another chapter or two.

Favorite Thing About This Book: Liv's character development

First Sentence: The girl he pulls to the surface is dead.

Favorite Character: Liv

Least Favorite Character: Matt

Gorgeously written and emotionally charged, The Secret History of Us explores the difficult journey of a teenage girl who must piece her life together after losing her memory in a near-fatal accident.

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was. 

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.


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