Juhina's Reviews > Keeping Secrets: Two Books in One: Saving Zoe and Faking 19

Keeping Secrets by Alyson Noel
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Jun 11, 2012

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bookshelves: raincoast, for-review, ebook

Saving Zoë was an emotional story about a girl, Echo, that loses her older sister, Zoë, through a murder a year before. To say that this rattled and shook their world would be an understatement. Echo's parents are as tense as they can be and constantly fight, Echo herself has started feeling distant towards her friends and everything around her, and the need to know more overpowered her when Zoë's boyfriend gives Echo Zoë's diary. Marc had it with him and felt that Echo should get to know the 'real' Zoë. Not the one everyone is talking about. Thus the journey through Zoë's last couple of months began.

In all honesty I expected something major to be written inside the diary, but the beauty of this novel is that Zoë really is just a normal teenage girl that parties too much and wants to get her break at fame. Echo starts to get to know Zoë more and more through each journal entry and for an attempt to feel close to Zoë she starts to hang our more with Marc. Now i've read a book similar to this idea which almost a year ago and while I might have understood the sudden attachment to the deceased sister's boyfriend, now I understood the pain and need to feel close to your loved one would let you do. I found Marc to be just as lost as Echo and I really did like his character. I think Alyson Noël did an amazing job portraying the fractured family of Echo, their overprotectiveness, the different kind of loss each character feels, and also the realistic aspect of losing a loved one.
Saving Zoë isn't about literally saving Zoë from her murder or even unraveling the story behind her death and who her murderer is, it is a story about the now and present, about the people Zoë had to leave behind and how they have to deal with this pain, even one year later and how Echo, through reading Zoë's diary, finally gets to know her sister like she's never known her before, giving her the chance to finally cherish Zoë's short life and try to start living her own.

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Faking 19 was a fluffy enjoyable contemporary for the most part. You've got two seventeen year old girls who hit the clubbing scene and pretend they are nineteen. The two girls, who are best friends, are total opposites. We've got the protagonist, Alex. Rewinding a couple of years back, she was the perfect student. Extracurricular activities, an A student, and just responsible. However, now? she's the opposite. She doesn't care about school, attending classes, bothering to submit her assignments and just as unmotivated as one can get. The other best friend M, is the A student that Alex used to be, on the fastback to princeton. Another difference is that Alex's parents got a divorce and her mom is struggling to make ends meet financially while M is a 90210 rich kid. I really didn't like their friendship; the opening scene shows Alex forgetting to write an important paper for a class and promising herself to write it when she gets back home, now M, who submitted the paper, asks Alex to go out, and Alex tells her she has to write the paper. M, being the good friend she is, tells her to write it after she comes back home! however Alex doesn't end up writing it and keeps on promising herself everyday for the next week!. Does anyone find this annoying? Shouldn't M guide her and motivate her and help her since she want's whats best for Alex? I just felt M was unbelievably selfish while Alex was unbelievably annoying.

However, ignoring that sorry excuse of a friendship I found the novel to be a cute contemporary and while I had issues with the absentee father and, I did like how Alex's mother realized how her daughter was sinking fast. Also, Alex learned a few lessons the hard way, by dating a 23 year old guy (while pretending she's 19) and then her lie backfires on her. Also, I am glad she realized her friendship needed some mending or a makeover or something. All in all, I liked how Alex figured things on her own and did not have a sudden realization in the last 10 pages. It was a pretty realistic fiction of a girl who lost her way and motivation and dreams. I do recommend it to any realistic fiction lover, but not to the younger YA population.
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