ARC Review: The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 16 March 2021
Genre: Young Adult Thriller/Mystery

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Four days…
Trapped in a well, surrounded by dirt, scratching at the walls trying to find a way out.
Four days of a thirst so strong, that when it finally rains, I drink as much as possible from the dripping walls, not even caring how much dirt comes with it.

Six months…
Since my escape. Since no one believed I was taken to begin with – from my own bed, after a party, when no one else was home…
Six months of trying to find answers and being told instead that I made the whole incident up.

One month…
Since I logged on to the Jane Anonymous site for the first time and found a community of survivors who listen without judgment, provide advice, and console each other when needed.
A month of chatting with a survivor whose story eerily mirrors my own: a girl who’s been receiving triggering clues, just like me, and who could help me find the answers I’m searching for.

Three days…
Since she mysteriously disappears, and since I’m forced to ask the questions: will my chance to find out what happened to me vanish with her? And will I be next?

TL;DR: An intense young adult thriller told through alternating timelines that often had cold chills running up my spine throughout the read. This book has a very unreliable narrator that honestly confused me a fair bit because I really had no idea what was happening at times–the confusion and daze that engulfed Terra was palpable! While the story really reeled me in from the beginning, it kind of lost me in the middle and I felt the resolution of the mystery was a little underwhelming. Overall, I liked how the author explored aspects of trauma and healing but sadly found the execution lacking.

I didn’t read the Jane Anonymous book that is linked to this story and although the Jane Anonymous website played a somewhat important role, this can very much be read as a standalone as elements of the JA book are briefly mentioned to give some context about the site and its purpose. It’s been a while since I read a YA mystery/thriller so I was looking forward to this as the synopsis really piqued my interest. I tend to be easily spooked so this one definitely had those creepy tingles run up the back of my neck a few times!

The story is divided into then and now but more time is spent in the now as Terra deals with the repercussions of what happened to her. I’m a fan of the mixed-media format so I really enjoyed getting parts of the story told through the chat dialogue and it gave more insight into the experiences of other survivors and showed how important such a platform is for coping with trauma and how a non-judgmental network significantly eases the strains on mental health. Terra’s story was hard to read at times from an emotional and mental standpoint–but admittedly also because the case of the unreliable narrator is pretty strong with this one! 😅 It was infuriating to see how the people who were supposed to care for her turned their backs so quickly and outright stated that what happened to her was made-up because of her PTSD and that she’s mentally ill. I think the story has the potential to be triggering for some readers so please read with caution!

While the story pulled me in very quickly it lost me in the middle as Terra’s POV got more muddled and I became even more confused as we stayed stuck in her head in a bit of an endless cycle. I don’t think that was necessarily an issue because the effect of Terra’s experience and trauma was captured well, the problem was that I couldn’t really connect to her character. I wanted to feel more invested but there’s such a detachment to the way the story is told, not to mention I was often confused, which kept me from caring more. In the end, I have to say that, other than a small unexpected twist that revealed how deeply her past affected her current state, the overall resolution to the mystery was pretty underwhelming. I managed to guess who the villain was closer to the reveal so it wasn’t a shocker but I had hoped to get a better understanding of the why and how and didn’t feel satisfied with what we got. There were definitely parts that were a little too unrealistic and bizarre to be plausible but overall, this was an interesting read and I’m glad that I checked it out!

Have you read The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep or is it on your TBR?

8 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep by Laurie Faria Stolarz

  1. I heard of this one the other day and thought the premise sounded intriguing. I’m glad that it was a good read overall for you even if there were different elements that didn’t quite work. Great review!

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  2. I agree. It is intense to be in the mind of someone with mental health issues and to be in someone with 4 diagnosed disorders was…woah! I thought the author handled the depiction very well. And I was particularly annoyed with the Aunt though Garrett is my hero 🙂 It did need a twisty ending though. Wonderful review!

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  3. Sorry you didn’t love this one! There were some really intense moments that had me terrified, haha. Great review!

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