Monday, October 31, 2022

#Review - All The Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell #YA #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense

SADIE meets THE LOVELY BONES in this standalone YA thriller by acclaimed author Saundra Mitchell. A Lambda Literary Award nominee.

There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend, Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her.

But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building.

Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own, do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

A twisted thriller with a painfully authentic emotional narrative, All the Things We Do in the Dark will capture readers from the very first page.


  "I'm obligated to say it out loud for everyone who can't. For the ones who don't have bulletproof stories even though we we're all equal: something evil happened, and it happened to us. We didn't make that evil happen."
Saundra Mitchell's All The Things We Do in the Dark is a twitted standalone thriller featuring 17 years old Ava. The combination of a murder mystery and the breathless onset of a new romance forces Ava to confront the trauma of her own violation. When Ava was 9 years old, she was lured away from safety and violated by someone who still hasn't been captured. The scar on her face is both a reminder of what happened that day, as well as pushing Ava into being as invisible as possible.
The problem is that she lives in small-town Maine where everyone knows who she is and what happened to her and if they didn’t, the scar on the side of her face would certainly be cause for curiosity. Ava is a good student who is on a track scholarship. Ava has also built up a collection of unusual tattoos that her mother is clueless about. One could say that whenever Syd gets a tattoo, Ava feels the need to get one.  
Ava compartmentalized a lot of things in her life since the rape to keep herself in control and feeling safe, until one day after a fight with her best friend she's walking home and finds a body of a dead girl in the woods. Instead of calling the police, she reasons that she's trying to protect her "Jane" from being picked apart and investigated by the police like she was when she was nine. Ava believes that Jane is guiding her to help solve the mystery of who killed her. Ava's obsession leads to a conflict with a boy who claims he knows who killed Jane. 
Ava also begins to break numerous rules that her mother put down for her to keep her safe thus causing a conflict between mother and daughter. Her mother has tried to keep tabs on her, but even she doesn’t know everything and Ava is prone to keeping secrets. After she becomes friends with Hailey Kaplan-Cho, whose father is a cop, she starts to develop feelings for her which is something she's never let herself experience before. Not even with Syd. One could say that she has had PTSD for the past 8 years, but really never healed herself.
The author does not shy away from delving into the depths of Ava’s experience with sexual assault, reawakened by the horrifying discovery she makes in the woods. The book was okay in my opinion. I would have liked more emphasis on the mystery, and less about Ava and Hailey and the silliness between Ava and Syd. I give a lot of respect to the mother. Even after what happens at the end of this book. Any other mother in this genre would have washed their hands of Ava's lies and putting herself in harms way.

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