Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: Secrets of Southern Girls

Author: Haley Harrigan
Started reading: April 18th 2017
Finished the book: April 28th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Published: June 6th 2017
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads score: 3.29
My score:

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What's worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can't forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.
When August, Reba's first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie's past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths Reba left buried... and reveal that Julie isn't the only one who feels responsible for Reba's death.

My thoughts
This is a nicely written story that revolves around guilt and reliving memories. It shows how events from the past can change you and can have an impact on you for a very long time.

  • Switch between now and then: The book has a lot of going back and forth; reliving memories and events from the past with Julie, August and Reba. It's slowly coming around what actually happened and you keep switching between the now and all those years ago. 
  • Fluently written: This book is not hard to read. It's fluently written and that's why you can read it without much hard thinking, re-reading sentences or checking up on things. I was never struggling or looking up words, and English is not my native language. So its was a nice book for me.
  • Character development: Julie is very different now from how she was all those years ago. As a grown-up she is developing as well in this book. She is learning more about her past with Reba and this also has an impact on her for who she is right now. I liked Julie much better at the end of the book.
  • Didn't suck me in: The book never really pulled me in. I was kinda going along with the story, but I was never over-excited to read the book or to figure out what happened. I think the plot wasn't that big of a secret for me, so the book itself wasn't that mysterious.
  • Didn't pick it up: I was reading other books as well next to this book and I noticed that I read the other books more than this one. When I had to choose, I would rather pick up another book. Maybe this also has to do something with the fact that I wasn't pulled into the story.
  • Never felt real tension: Also something that I mentioned; I never felt the tension or the mystery behind the story. There were some revelations that I would never have guessed at the beginning of the book, but the real plot twist and the big reveal weren't that surprising.
It's a nice story about how you don't now everybody as well as you think. About carrying events from the past with you for the rest of your life. About finding the strength to forgive yourself. A decent book, 3 apples.

Other opinions about this book
"Harrigan is a great prose stylist who knows how to sustain the tension and tone required of a Southern Gothic novel. Her writing is evocative and atmospheric, whether the action takes place under the bright lights of Manhattan or in Mississippi's weedy heat."
- ForeWord

"Harrigan's novel, part mystery and part coming-of-age, explores the process of healing from tragedies and misunderstandings."
- Publishers Weekly

What is for you the most important part in a mystery book?



  1. Great question! If it's a mystery, there has to be tension. Without tension, I don't care about the mystery. For instance, I'm reading Jess Ryder's "Lie to Me" right now, because people were raving about it, but despite all the secrets and lies that are being uncovered, there's no sense of tension and I'm finding it work to keep reading because it's just ... boring.

    1. Yeah, maybe Mystery is one of the hardest genres to write, because you have to make sure people don't figure it out too quick.. You book stands or falls with it...

  2. I like a good surprising twist in a mystery. I hate it when I figure out the solution too early in the book.

    This book sounds like it was missing a spark that would have made it harder to set aside. I am glad that there were things you liked about it.

    1. Totally agree on the statement that the book is missing a spark!!


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~ Esther