When A Favorite Author Disappoints: The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

When A Favorite Author Disappoints: The Secret History of Us by Jessi KirbyThe Secret History of Us
by Jessi Kirby
Release Date: August 1st 2017
Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Format: eARC
Pages: 288
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

A near drowning…a coma for days…and then…

Olivia wakes up to realize she doesn’t remember. Not just the accident—but anything from the last four years. Not high school. Not Matt, the guy who is apparently her boyfriend. Not the reason she and Jules are no longer friends. Nothing.

That’s when it hits her—the accident may not have taken her life, but it took something just as vital: her memory. The harder she tires to remember things, the foggier everything gets, and figuring out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

But then there’s Walker. The guy who saved her. The one who broke her ribs pumping life back into her lungs. The hardened boy who keeps his distance despite Olivia’s attempts to thank him.

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 even remember living.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I have loved every book by Jessi Kirby, and any time I hear about a book from her, I pounce on it. The Secret History of Us sounded very different from her typical book, but I had faith that she’d write yet another compelling, character-driven book. I’m so sad to even write this, but this book was a huge disappointment. I’ve decided to do this review in bullet form because it’s much easier for me to express my thoughts about this book this way.

What I Liked

  • The writing was lovely. As always, Kirby’s writing is stunning. I knew very early on this book wasn’t working for me, but I also was not able to put it down because of the writing.
  • Olivia’s reaction to her amnesia was realistic. I thought the author handled that part brilliantly. When Olivia’s emotions surfaced, especially, I found the book to be very engaging. She’s obviously struggling with her memory loss and trying to figure out what happened to her over the years, and who the people around her truly are, and Jessi Kirby captured those frustrations beautifully.
  • I liked that by the end of the book, Olivia didn’t magically regain all her memories, because that wouldn’t have been particularly realistic.

What I Disliked

  • My biggest issue with The Secret History of Us is that I don’t see what the point of this book was. I thought it kept building up to some big shocking revelation, but it didn’t. It just sort of ended abruptly and I was left scratching my head wondering if my ARC was missing pages. I think this really stemmed from the story not being executed as well as it could have been. I also felt like Kirby made the accident seem like this big mysterious incident, but never really knew how to work with the event to make it memorable.
  • Also, the book is on the short side, and it could easily have been a few pages longer to make for a stronger story. In a nutshell, this book had no plot.
  • The characters other than Olivia, were not very well-developed, which was a surprise to me because this author is known for taking her time to develop her character. Readers just don’t get to spend enough time with the secondary cast to get to know them.
  • What even was with the romance? I’m not even sure I can call it that … So at the beginning of the book we find out that Olivia has a boyfriend who was also with her in the accident. She doesn’t remember him at all, but they try to go on dates and such so she can try to remember. Then there was Walker, the boy who saved Olivia when her car went down into the lake. It’s hinted throughout the book that Walker played a significant role in Olivia’s life before the accident that no one is aware of, but he didn’t even make that significant of an appearance until the very end of the book. All of a sudden Olivia and Walker are kissing, and I was just left wondering where this even came from. We don’t see any build up to this, not even through flashback scenes, and so the romance seemed like it popped up out of nowhere. This, of course, really disappointed me.

In the end, I felt like The Secret History of Us was a weak story, without a lot of foundation to it. I had hopes, but those were sadly not met. I would recommend Jessi Kirby’s previous novels over this one with certainty.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Are you a fan of amnesia books?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  • kindlemom1

    I read this and didn’t love it either, it was just…I don’t even know. Disappointing to say the least. 😉

  • I haven’t gotten to read anything from this author yet, but I remember seeing this one on Goodreads a while back. I’m not too into stories that deal with amnesia, but that’s just me. lol. I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed by this one. I hate when I get really excited to check out a book but end up disappointed. That’s the worst. I hope your next read is much better!

  • A Novel Glimpse

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy this book like you expected. 🙁 I haven’t read this author before. If I decide to try her out, I’ll read one of her other books.

  • I have this and have been putting it off because of the reviews. It just doesn’t sound like something I need to pick up. I will have to check out her other books.

  • I’m not familiar with this author, but it totally sucks when you have such high expectations for someone and the author doesn’t meet them. It sounds like a fairly emotional book, so it’s too bad that it didn’t have a point. That would frustrate me to NO end.

  • Weird that your review comes as no surprise to me. I’m not a fan of amnesia plots and no matter how lovely the writing is, I probably would have felt the exact same way that you did reading it. It’s a huge reason why I haven’t picked this book up yet. I honestly don’t think that I will.

    Thanks for the review and for laying out what didn’t work for you. It helps to read people I trust’s review of books that I’m on the fence about.

  • Oh no, this is such a bummer! Reading a disappointing book by a beloved author is one of the worst reading experiences I can think of. I haven’t read anything by Jessi Kirby yet and based on your review, this won’t be the one I start with. Amnesia plot lines are rarely well done in my experience, and the romance sounds like a hot mess.

  • Aww I am sorry that this was a disappointment for you! I liked it, but didn’t love it- and definitely didn’t like it as much as Kirby’s last book. I don’t think I disliked it as much, but I won’t lie, I think I liked it more because it was so short haha. The writing was good, certainly. I think my biggest disappointment was that in such a short book, there was a chunk of uselessness in the middle, and then a VERY short ending. I wanted a bit more from the end of the book in general. Great review, sorry it wasn’t good for you!

  • That’s so disappointing Nick. I’ve read a few of her previous titles with Golden being my favourite so far but this sounds like a massive let down. Considering it’s so short you would think it would pack more of a punch but nothing seems to be going on at all. Even contemporaries need some sort of direction with the lack of plot or a point characters are working towards. I’m so let down now. Was super excited to grab a copy but will probably wait until it’s on sale now. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this more Nick darling, but wonderful review <3 <3

  • I’ve only read Moonglass by Kirbi and wasn’t super impressed, but In Honor was better. I know readers have enjoyed her more recent books. I do have a copy of Golden, but I’ve never got around to reading it. Sorry to hear this didn’t work but I can understand why if there wasn’t any real plot. The romance sounds pretty lackluster as well. I guess that can’t all be winners. Great honest review, Nick! 🙂

  • Aw man, how disappointing! I’ve never read anything by this author, but I HATE it when a favorite writes a less than stellar book and I have to review it. I can definitely see why you didn’t enjoy this one. Underdeveloped characters are a definite mood killer for me. Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  • Sorry you were so let down. This was ok for me. I agree with all your “likes”, and there wasn’t a ton of plot, but for me, this was about being true to yourself and not letting other people tell you what you can or cannot be. Maybe I was reading into it, but that was my take away. Just like the parts when she would eat meat, but they told her she was a vegetarian or how her and the boyfriend belonged together, but she felt nothing when she was with him. Olivia’s struggle with what she thought she should be and what she wanted to be really called out to me. I do wish we had more of the romance though, because I was all about that.

  • Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear that this book was a miss. I’ve only read one Jessie Kerby book but I remember really enjoying it. I was intrigued by this book but as much as I love my character development I do like having some kind of plot interwoven. Plus I’m a sucker for romance and it makes me sad to see that this one doesn’t seem to have any foundation to it.