G. Bianco, 2019
Karen M. McManus was praised for her genius writing in her debut novel, One of Us Is Lying, a murder mystery centered around five high school students. Now McManus is back with her second novel, Two Can Keep a Secret, where the creepiness and mystery are turned up a notch in a town where secrets are best left alone.
Ellery’s never been to the small town of Echo Ridge, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen and, five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery, and her twin brother Ezra, have to move there to live with a grandmother they barely know. The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And someone's already declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother and grandmother both have them. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous and sometimes it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.
This novel was just as amazing as One of Us Is Lying! The best words to describe this novel are mysterious, creepy, and shocking. One thing McManus knows how to do is weave together a dramatic and chilling mystery and she does it once again in this novel. Every twist and turn is truly shocking and half of the things that happen are completely unexpected! McManus truly knows how to keep a reader guessing while keeping everything very tightly knit and intertwined. There weren’t any plot twists that just came out of left field, but were still startling enough to be plot twists. This novel was not as cliché as One of Us Is Lying and fans of McManus, as well as mystery in general, will get a thrill from Two Can Keep A Secret.
The only thing that would’ve taken this book to the next level is if there would’ve been a bit more character development. As much as each character was likable and fun to read about, I wish I could have learned more about the non-narrators, like Ellery’s twin brother, Ezra, or Malcolm’s friend, Mia.
Overall, fans of McManus will not be disappointed with Ellery’s story. The secrets holding Echo Ridge together will unravel and leave the reader guessing at every turn. McManus leaves the reader with a creepy ending that concludes that story nicely, but is chilling enough that it gives you the sense that the story may not be over yet. After all “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead…"
Reminiscent of Perks of Being a Wallflower, Sarah Henstra’s novel We Contain Multitudes uses inspiration from Walt Whitman’s poetry to weave a story of two boys forming a relationship through letters written to one another.
Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky are completely different people. Jo is an openly gay, poetry-loving sophomore while Kurl is a second-year senior football player. When the two boys get paired as pen pal partners in English class, they start to see that things aren’t as black and white as they seem. Their friendship begins to grow with each letter and eventually turns to love. But with homophobia, bullying, family secrets, and insecurities, Jonathan and Kurl try to hold on to their relationship amidst the conflicts threatening to tear them apart.
Simply put, this novel is beautifully written. Told in letters, We Contain Multitudes really digs deep into the emotions of the characters and it’s what makes this story work so well. The epistolary aspect brought the narration of the novel to such a deeper and personal level and helped show the emotions of the characters more fully. The use of letters allows the characters to convey emotions and thoughts that they would never dare to say aloud. It also helps the reader to gradually get to know these characters bit by bit as they reveal more personal topics to one another. As Jo and Kurl’s letters and relationship progress, so does the reader’s understanding of the events and circumstances that bring these two together. The character development crescendos as both Kurl and Jo find themselves through their letters, as well as learn about the other person.
Interlaced with themes of drug use, abuse, bullying, and PTSD, We Contain Multitudes shows how one can find solace in a person whom they never wouldn’t otherwise spoken to if fate hadn’t stepped in. Henstra also utilizes Walt Whitman’s poetry (see the title of the book) to help further convey the emotions of the characters as well as emphasize the themes of the novel. It is a unique way to incorporate poetry into a more mainstream medium of literature and show that there is real meaning beneath the flowery language and how poetry can resonate with so many different people on so many different levels.
Their love story is beautifully imperfect and really shows how love is not always bright colors and happiness. There is heartbreak. There is tragedy. There are regrets. But slowly, these pieces come together with passion and understanding to create a beautiful love story. Overall, We Contain Multitudes is a stunning novel that really shows that beauty in the pain and a more realistic view on young love.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!