I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by HarperTeen on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
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A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.
It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.
The premise for These Things I’ve Done immediately grabbed me. I always gravitate towards angst and novels that are on the heavy side leaving me filled with a plethora of emotions as I read. This story is about a girl who blames herself for her best friend’s death and the path to acceptance and letting go.
The chapters are divided between the Before and the After of Aubrey’s death and both time frames were equally important to the overall story.
Before: The Before starts at the beginning of Dara and Aubrey’s sophomore year of high school and about 9-10 months before the accident. In these chapters we get a real feel for who Dara is and it provides a lot of perspective on how much Dara has been affected by her loss and her guilt. Here we meet a Dara that is confident and reckless. She is never one to turn down a dare to the point her friends often called her ‘Dare-ya’. These chapters give a great glimpse into Dara and Aubrey’s friendship and how important to each other they were as well as providing the details leading up to Aubrey’s death.
After: A few months after the accident happened Dara moved out of town with her aunt and uncle hoping that would allow everyone time to heal, including herself. But after a year away she has decided to return home to face her guilt head-on and finish her senior year at her old high school. The Dara we meet in the After is nothing like her previous self. Now she is afraid of human contact, is sort of reclusive, and very fragile. In blaming herself for her friend’s death, she doesn’t feel like she deserves to be happy. Everyone seems to be avoiding Dara at school, whispering and gossiping behind her back and well pretty much right in front of her as well, except Aubrey’s brother Ethan.
I really connected with Dara as a character. Her pain and guilt was devastating and a huge obstacle she needed to overcome. A huge part of her healing was Ethan. It was obvious in the Before that Aubrey’s little brother had a crush on Dara and they had a great friendship back then as well. But in the present he helped show her that finding happiness and moving on wasn’t selfish. They have a rocky road to get through as they both are still healing but I loved how real and raw their paths were together and on their own.
I truly loved everything about this story. Dara is such a complex and well-rounded character and I thought her portrayal was incredibly realistic. And Ethan! Gah, I loved him! So understanding, sweet, and patient. There are a lot of demons Dara has to work through but her journey touched my heart.
I’m in awe with how well the author crafted a story filled with so much emotion and hope in a way that felt completely organic in every aspect and not at all overwhelming. This book was everything I hoped it would be and more! Definitely one to pick up!