Title: The Telling
Author: Alexandra Sirowy
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Length: 389 pages | 12 hours, 0 minutes
Source: Gifted by Jenefer of Novels and Notebooks
Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben, was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.
Then came after. After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.
I was underprepared for how lovely this YA murder mystery is. I could not put it down! Like the best mysteries, it twists and turns, using the MC’s perception and assumptions to draw the reader down false paths and impossible considerations.
This book pulls no punches- the MC’s beloved step-brother was murdered two months before the narrative begins, and her mother committed suicide when she was only 4. Lana is introspective and dreamy, observing others rather than taking risks. Her depression is real and visceral, and her emotional decisions are so authentically teenaged (without being shallow and frustrating) that I had a really time stopping to go to bed. I didn’t just want to figure out the mystery, I wanted to see where Lana went.
I was totally pleased by the ending- not just the resolution of the mystery, but the resolution of Lana’s growth as a character. Everything in this book is messy and complicated and real- familial bonds, friendships, self-awareness. It’s charming and slightly otherworldly and sad. And then there are frenetic moments of real danger (where, thankfully, the characters don’t do idiotic heroic things, or withhold crucial information for no reason).
Overall, I recommend this book for fans of murder mystery (even if YA isn’t your thing- this story is not juvenile), realistic characters, and atmospheric settings. Did I mention it takes place not only in Seattle, but in what appears to be a fictional take on one of my favorite islands by Seattle (Bainbridge)?