Publication Date: June 4th 2015
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What is the secret of Lauren's past?
Lauren's family have moved house very suddenly, and she and her sister Tilda have to go to a new school. Lauren's determined to reinvent herself, but she's panic-stricken when she sees Harry, who she knew a few years ago. Luckily Harry doesn't recognise her, and she knows she has to make sure it stays like that.
Lauren, unlike Tilda, settles in well. She makes friends, is helping to organise the school fashion show, and has boys asking her out. But just as her life finally seems to be looking up she starts receiving macabre packages. When she gets a message: 'Isn't it time your new friends knew all about you?' she has to admit that someone knows her secret. But who - and what should she do?
Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for a full and honest review. Photo below is from my Instagram (here).
Going into this novel, I did not know much about the plot or the author. I thought the novel was going to be a quick, easy and fun read that I would enjoy but that would not leave a lasting impression on me. How I was wrong.
The novel centers around our protagonist Lauren's secret. A secret so dark and life threatening that her family had to move house and never speak about it directly. One of the things about this novel that I found most interesting to read about was the family dynamic the reader is presented with. Lauren's family; mother, father and younger sister Tilda, all read as a realistic family. Often in YA novels, there is a lack of this realism as the protagonist has worryingly absent parents or declares that they "hate" their parents and therefore are never mentioned much in the novel. So I very much enjoyed seeing the family interactions in this novel.
One thing Simon Packham has written so realistically and vividly about is the sibling relationship in this novel. While reading, I could feel myself becoming attached to this relationship as Lauren thought back on memories of playing with her sister and helping each other with school work.
The plot surrounding the secret is so gripping and well executed. The reader is being introduced to lots of new characters and their own pasts while Lauren is also doing other things, but even though you are being submersed in this current plot, the whole time you're reading you are thinking of this dark secret in the back of your mind. The suspense and build up to the reveal was so very well done as was the unmasking of the person sending the "gifts".
The teenage mindset and attitude is so bitingly real in this novel. Often in YA the teenage protagonists will come off as pretentious and will have the mindset of a forty year old, spouting knowledge one could not possibly possess at fourteen. However in Only We Know, Simon Packham has perfected the teenage voice creating a protagonist that the reader welcomes into their heart from the first page and voice they will not forget.
The only criticisms I had with the novel, are possibly my own fault. One of my all time favourite TV shows to watch is Midsomer Murders. If you watch that show, you will be aware that the plot lines and mysteries are some of the most ludicrous but highly entertaining. Because of this, my brain is trained when reading a mystery / suspense to be on constant think mode. I had guessed very early on what the nature of the secret was and who the person sending threatening gifts was. Although this did not dampen my enjoyment of the novel, it did make me wish I was surprised by the twist.
Overall a highly entertaining and enjoyable novel that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. Packham raises many issues that teenagers can relate to in a fresh and compelling way. I think that going into this novel knowing very little is the best way to go.