eARC Review: What the Other Three Don’t Know by Spencer Hyde

Goodreads: What the Other Three Don’t Know
Publish date: 03 March 2020
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Panda Rating:

Will I still be loved if I show people who I really am?
Four high school seniors. Four secrets about to be told.

If Indie had it her way, she would never choose to river raft with three other high school seniors, mostly strangers to each other, from her journalism class.

A loner, a jock, an outsider, an Instagram influencer. At first they can’t see anything that they have in common. As the trip unfolds, the unpredictable river forces them to rely on each other. Social masks start to fall as, one-by-one, each teen reveals a deep secret the other three don’t know.

One is harboring immense grief and unwilling to forgive after the death of a loved one. One is dealing with a new disability and an uncertain future. One is fearful of the repercussions of coming out. One is hiding behind a carefully curated “perfect” image on Instagram.

Before they get to the end of Hells Canyon, they’ll know the truth about each other and, more importantly, learn something new about themselves.

I requested this book because of the strong Breakfast Club vibes that I got from the synopsis but I was a little underwhelmed by the story. I really appreciated the author’s note at the start but I found it difficult to connect with the characters and I wasn’t all too sure about how I felt about the writing style.

The style is very descriptive, especially when it comes to describing the landscape, but also with the nature metaphors that are weaved into the writing. That said, although it was descriptive, I found it difficult to form a clear picture in my head. I also found that as someone who hasn’t lived in America and who hasn’t grown up in the area the book is set in, a lot of the terminology that’s used left me feeling confused. I felt like not being familiar with things like fly fishing/fishing, rearing horses and navigating river rapids left me at a disadvantage and in turn that also stopped me from fully connecting with the story. In a way I felt that maybe the story was trying too hard to be something it wasn’t and that also kept me from enjoying it as much.

“My parents named me Indiana because I was born on the roadside next to a weathered, warped green state sign that read Now Leaving Indiana. I’m sure they had no idea how prophetic that sign would be. Everyone left me.”

Indie is our protagonist and while I understood her anger for her loss and her despairing at being “alone” in the world, I never really warmed up to her character. I don’t know if her thoughts were meant to inspire empathy or even pity, but I found them repetitive and annoying. She does experience growth by learning to forgive by the end though. I was hoping that since this is a story about the secrets of four students, we’d get to see the other perspectives aside from Indie’s but I was sad to quickly realise that wouldn’t be the case. I think it would’ve strengthened the story but also maybe would’ve made it easier to form a connection. My favourite character was Wyatt and I ended up genuinely caring about what happened to him. His situation really garnered my sympathy but there was also a certain purity and strength to his character that I admired.

There is a mild romance in the story but it felt unnecessary. There was no basis or strong foundation for it and it didn’t endear me more to the characters. I feel like it was thrown in just for the sake of having some romance in a YA contemporary.

“Being seen as you truly are? That’s probably the best thing you can do in this life,” said Wyatt.

What I appreciated and enjoyed most about the book was the friendship that formed between the students and in the message that the author shared about being yourself, embracing who you are and going for what you want. It was a heartwarming and positive message that I think if I had read as a young adult, would have been very reassuring, especially during such a tumultuous period in life where everything is changing. Even as an adult who’s admittedly still trying to find her place it is a comforting thought!

“People matter–not the things. Be the thing that allows you to be you. Don’t let people corner you into being just one. Be both.”

While this ended up being different than what I expected, I am glad that I did read it. Also, I really love this cover and it’s what caught my eye in the first place.

Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now out!

Have you read What the Other Three Don’t Know or is it on your TBR?

13 thoughts on “eARC Review: What the Other Three Don’t Know by Spencer Hyde

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