Top Social

Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Secrets of Lily Graves
by Sarah Strohmeyer

Genre: YA Contemporary, Crime, Mystery
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: May 13, 2014
by Balzer + Bray


Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

I'm a fan of Sarah Strohmeyer's writing. Thus far, I've adored the wit and humor she incorporates into her reads. The Secrets of Lily Graves is different form her previous works also in that it doesn't have the humor of Smart Girls or the romantic, magical feel of How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True (which also had humor). Instead, Lily Graves keeps the plot moving with the secrets surfacing like puzzle pieces slowly building the completed picture to reveal the surprise plot twist at the end.

On the spectrum of crime novels, Lily Graves falls more on the investigation side than on the action / thriller / life-is-on-the-line end. Not until the end did I really get the feeling that Lily's life was seriously in danger from anything more than a potential false arrest. This was disappointing, as I was expecting more danger with Lily pursuing the real killer, as the synopsis suggests that there will be more victims. Suspense is created through the unraveling of clues and through flashbacks to time Lily and Matt spent together during their 'tutoring sessions'. Narrating the story from a futuristic point of view also helps add tension with foreshadowing comments from an older Lily. However, this results in an anticlimax towards the end when the secrets don't live up to the suspense created at the beginning. Also, many don't even have to do with Lily, as the title suggests.

Character-wise, I love how Lily is surrounded with unique, quirky people. Lily loves to wear black with heavy makeup. While I wouldn't classify her as a goth like one of my good friends (other than clothes, she doesn't seem to participate in the culture), and I appreciate this piece of diversity in the book. There's also her aunt Boo with her tattoos and easy-going attitude and Lily's crime-investigator-wannabe best friend Sarah who has a disability (withered arm). Sarah is very expressive and has an over-the-top personality. She plays such a big role in Lily's life that I wish we saw more of her. The same goes for Matt. Lily and Matt have a definite chemistry going on between them, and I wish that the story spent more time going over what happened between them. I'm still at a loss for how the romance between them developed to the point where they care so deeply for each other or why Matt joined the investigation when earlier he wasn't responding to her texts and phone calls.

I wish that the story spent more time exploring character motivations. While I really hated Erin's friends for how they treat Lily, I don't feel like we ever really did get to know them and how they're involved in events other than the party they threw on the day of Erin's murder. There's also Erin and who she really was under the image she conveyed of the girl who had everything. And the real culprit and those involved with the culprit. The plot wraps up pretty quickly after Lily uncovers the identity of Erin's murderer, and we don't really get a chance to figure out what's going to happen and how events have changed the lives of all involved. I'm especially surprised by the involvement of one particular character and would like to know more about why and how s/he got tangled in this affair.

Overall, this has been an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to those looking for a YA murder mystery with generally likable characters and a surprising plot twist at the end. Though not to those looking for a heart-pounding, action-packed crime novel with high stakes.

Additional Information
  • N/A

  • Cutting
  • Death
  • Drugs
  • Murder
  • Sex

12 comments on "Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer"
  1. I love a good plot twist at the end of a book, just so long as it's not too much of a cliffhanger because I seriously hate those. LOL The mysterious sounds like it was well done too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thanks, Carmel :)

      Yeah, plot twists at the end of books are nasty when we have to wait months to a whole year to find out where it leads!

  2. Authors sometimes try too hard to create really quirky characters only to fail spectacularly, but when it works, it's the most wonderful thing. I'm glad it worked for those around Lily. It makes me want to read this book even more.

    1. Yeah, quirky characters are the best :)

  3. The characters sound really enjoyable! I love it when authors manage to pull off quirkiness. I think those little details - like the kind of clothes you wear and tattoos and such - really make a character more alive, in a way.

    Glad you enjoyed it! Wonderful review, Kris <33

    1. Thanks, Celine! :)

      I agree, the little details play such a large role in building characters.

  4. This sounds like a really good read. I had seen it on Goodreads and clicked past it because it looked like a little contemporary novel that I wasn't in the mood for. You have totally changed my mind!

    Great review.

    1. Thanks, Kandee! I hope you enjoy it :)

  5. I think this book sounds adorable. But maybe I'm just a sucker for a good pun--Graves . . . morticians . . . heh ;) And I'm not a huge fan of heart-stopping thrillers (just call me "chicken"), so I'm pretty sure I'd be content with a good twist and quirky, fun characters, without any nail-biting, jumping at noises, seeing things move out of the corner of my eye, etc. Wonderful review, Kris.

  6. I totally love this author! I think all her characters are very well explored and I love how the girls are always strong and smart and okay with their differences.

    This sounds like a wonderful story!

    Lovely review :)

    1. I agree. Strohmeyer writes great stories with strong female characters :)


Thanks for commenting. We love hearing from readers! To receive notifications of replies to your comments, just click “Notify me” in the bottom right corner of the comment box to subscribe to the thread! :)