Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Secrets of Lily Grave by Sarah Strohmeyer [Review]

The Secrets of Lily Graves4 out of 5 Robots!

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Genre: YA Contemporary
Release: May 13, 2014
Hardcover: 298 Pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
My Copy: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.

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.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
First Impressions:
I thought this was a fun book whose strengths lie with the protagonist.  The mystery aspect didn't really reveal anything particularly new or shocking, but I like it as the backdrop to the rest of the story.  Below I'll break down what worked and didn't work for me.

Here is what I liked:

**I really enjoyed Lily as the main character.  She is compassionate, but willing to stand her ground.  She is close with her family, even when they annoy her.  She has a unique perspective on life and isn't afraid to let her "freak flag fly", but she is also fairly grounded and has a strong sense of self.  

**I loved that Lily's family are morticians.  Strohmeyer could have made this way over the top, but I thought it was a good balance of quirky and realistic.  It kind of reminded me of a cross of the funeral parlor scenes in My Girl and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

**Matt and Lily's relationship.  It was sweet.  I couldn't help but like it.  I also like the idea of the "jock" with the "outcast".  I like unlikely romances.  I also loved how their relationship also wasn't focused on how different their social circles were.  They both just liked each other for themselves.  

**The writing is bouncy and fun.  Lily has a great self-deprecating sense of humor and even though the subject matter was a little dark, it was very much a lighthearted book.

Here is what I didn't like:

**I wasn't too keen on the stereotypes of jocks, mean girls, weirdos, etc.  I just wish YA would break out of these stereotypes and paint high school social relationships more complicated than the strict cliques they portray.  It's not all The Breakfast Club.  

**I am pretty squeamish when it comes to death, so some of the descriptions of how bodies are prepared grossed me out a bit.  I appreciated the realism and it certainly was not gratuitous.  But still, ew.

**I didn't find the mystery all that compelling.  Or I should say, I didn't think the reveal to be that compelling. I guessed it fairly early on and it wasn't particularly new or shocking.  I liked when Lily was "working the case", but overall, I felt ambivalent about it.  It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story at all, but it didn't add to it much either.


This was the first Sarah Strohmeyer book I've read and I will definitely be back for more.  I was very entertained and found it the right mix of fluffy and serious.  If this sounds like it is up your alley, you should definitely check it out!

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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