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The Shadows We Know by Heart

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  281 ratings  ·  89 reviews
In this haunting and luminescent debut novel, a girl’s complicated family life starts to unravel after she finds herself falling for a mysterious boy who lives in the forest behind her house.

Leah Roberts’s life hasn’t been the same since her brother died ten years ago. Her mother won’t stop drinking, her father can’t let go of his bitter anger, and Leah herself has a secre
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  281 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Candace Robinson
Loved this book! It was a unique story that had Tarzan and Jane elements that had me jumping out of my seat! Plus, come on, Bigfoot or Sasquatch? How cool is that! I want to go hang out with baby Bee for the day, and I loved Leah's brother Matt! There were great emotional scenes and revelations from different characters. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because I am extremely picky about MC's, and when they lie for no real reason, but I still did like Leah minus that. Full review ...more
Rachel Patrick
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review (and others) can be seen in all its properly formatted glory on my blog Beauty and the Bookshelf.

4.5 stars!

The Shadows We Know by Heart had a very unique aspect to its premise that made me absolutely, positively need to read it: Sasquatch. You read that right: Big Foot. When I knew this book would have the elusive, are-they-real-or-are-they-a-hoax creatures, I knew I had to have it. So when I saw there was an ARC giveaway, entered it, and freaking won, I was ecstatic--this very inter
Alexandra Ott
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a unique and fascinating book! It's a contemporary Tarzan retelling set in Texas and featuring Sasquatches, and it's even more amazing than it sounds. I couldn't put it down because I could never predict what was going to happen next. The setting is fantastic--I felt like I was right there in the East Texas woods with Leah. The story is full of romance, family relationships, mysteries, twists and turns, and absolutely gorgeous writing. A fun and compelling debut! ...more
Whitney Gardner
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Shadows We Know By Heart is a unique book blending a slowly unfolding mystery and a romance set in a wonderful woodsy world with just a hint of magic. The premise is set out right away, a mysterious boy emerges from the woods and we see that Sasquatches are real. The puckish forest-dwelling teen is the epicenter both of the bonds of friendship and love that tie together Leah, her family, and closest friends, and the mystery that these families share, an old tragedy with still-raw wounds, whi ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Read as an ARC)

Okay, first off, THAT TITLE. And by the end, THAT TITLE. I might be jealous.

What an amazing story of loss and hope and the lies we tell to protect other people. And half these lies are because if you told someone, they'd never believe you. Totally legit.

So Leah has been hiding out in the woods where her parents tell her she's NEVER TO GO INTO, but what do they even care? It's not like they pay attention to her since her brother died. And what she finds in the woods are a family o
Anna Priemaza
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
After reading this book, I desperately want a sasquatch as a friend. At the same time, though, I intend to run away screaming upon catching even a glimpse of one, so I doubt the friendship will last long.

That's one of the great things about this book--the sasquatches living in the woods aren't good or bad, but well-rounded characters with flaws and strengths and individual personalities. In fact, that's true of every character. I loved them all and hated them all. They weren't good guys and bad
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had no clue what to expect when I picked this up...and by the end, I was like "why aren't there MORE SASQUATCH BOOKS?!?!" But seriously. It's a YA Tarzan retelling with Sasquatches, and if you're intrigued at all by that concept, this is definitely one to pick up.

I read it cover to cover in approximately one afternoon. The prose often surprised me, with these beautiful & poignant moments of description and insight appearing in the text like precious gemstones. The characters themselves were a
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debut
I fed my kids cereal to finish reading this in one sitting. A mystery, a romance, and Sasquatch: how can you go wrong????
Katie Nelson
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A unique and beautiful story about love, loss, and finding the courage to move on!

This captivating story plunges you straight into the woods, and the mystery surrounding the death of Leah's brother and friends. We feel her grief, and its effects on her whole family, while wanting more for her. I loved the slow burn of the romance, and the gradual revelations about the whole town's secrets. Perfect blend of tension and gorgeous writing that will keep you turning pages until the satisfying conclus
I loved every word of Jennifer Parks's debut novel. The story is captivating from page one. Park plunges you into the East Texas woods until you feel like you're part of the story and never want to leave. Great characters, a great setting, gorgeous writing and exactly the right amount of action/tension to keep you turning the pages. A haunting look at love, hope, and the lies we tell, this is a book I can't wait to read again. ...more
Amanda Searcy
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this one down. I had to see what was going to happen next and how it would all resolve. I loved the relationships between the characters (human and otherwise) and the clever plot. (And I can I totally believe that there are Sasquatches in the East Texas woods!) This is a great read! ...more
J.C. Davis
THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART is a love story that winds around your heart and won't let go. Park does a fantastic job bringing her world to life and I felt like I was right there in the East Texas woods, waiting with my breath held for a wild boy to wander by. Perfect pacing, memorable characters and a love story that made me want to be seventeen again, this fantastic Tarzan retelling is one I want to reread over and over. I couldn't help jotting down favorite lines and lingering over favorite s ...more
Jennifer Fenn
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-2017
Jennifer Park's debut YA novel has one unique premise! Leah, whose family has been torn apart by the death of her older brother ten years before, has been feeding the family of Big Foot who live in the woods behind her house for years when she discovers a teenage "wild boy" in their midst. Leah believes she is only one who knows about the creatures' existence. Is she? Who is the wild boy? And how are the Sasquatch connected to her brother's death? Spoiler: It's NOT how you think!

More than one ni
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first heard about a Tarzan retelling, I didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't this beautiful, wonderful, bittersweet love story. The characters, the East Texas setting, and the relationships are all rich, complex, and gorgeous. It was impossible not to love Leah and her "wild boy", but at the risk of getting spoilery, I'll just say to read it. Read it as soon as you can. ...more
I was semi-excited for this book. It seemed like a good read, but not mind-blowing. Though come to find out, it was such an amazing read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Something did, however, take me by surprise: my absolute adoration and love for Bee. All in all, I recommend this book.
T. S.
Ooh la la, well consider me quite satisfied with this one.

When I read the synopsis for the very first time, and noticed that this book shall involve Sasquatch and forests, my very first thought was this: this could be very good and original (because, come on, SASQUATCH) or a complete mess.

I am pleased to report that THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART is wonderfully original. And organized. And knows where it’s headed, what it wants to address, and how it is to get there.
Look, I like books like this on
Gwen Cole
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-debuts
First of all, I can never stop staring at the cover of this book, and it was just as beautiful in my hands. Second of all, there's something about this book that I couldn't put it down. The plot is full of mystery and to-die-for romance, something I couldn't get enough of with these amazing characters. So happy I got to read this ARC! <3 ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This incredible YA is about as unique as they come -- it's a YA Tarzan with Sasquatches! It's full of family drama, too, and a lot of twists and turns. DEFINITELY get your hands on it in March '17! ...more
DNF @ 36%

Okay, this book was supposed to be on my favorites shelf. Another YA Bigfoot book? Omg, it was going to be perfect. So may heart eyes. However, it did not float my Bigfoot boat. I'm so disappointed in what I read. I'm not sure if it was me or the expectations I placed on it. I imagined this would be a happy go lucky Bigfoot book, and I got a heavy, darker, more emotional Bigfoot read, which I was not feeling instead. And that really rocked my view of how the book read. 

I really think my
Laurie Dennison
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I immediately related to Leah and her struggles, even in this fantastical world of Bigfoot. The family dynamic was incredibly well-drawn, examining what it means to be the child of a pastor in the South, and how faith can be tested in devastating circumstances. The contemporary elements of the novel work so well that I never found myself questioning the fantasy elements. Park also manages to create a believable, dynamic love triangle. She kept me guessing as to how this situation could possibly ...more
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a tender and page-turning novel with an original premise and a rich and believable sister-brother relationship at its center.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
I can not get over how breathtaking and gorgeous this book was. I picked it up before bed and could not put it down until it was finished. Absolutely stunning prose accompanied by the backdrop of a modern day Tarzan and Jane relationship- everything about it was unique and beautiful and entirely engaging. This book has firmly slipped into a special place in my heart and I will happily recommend it to everyone ever.
Faith Lund
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely amazing!!! It was like Tarzan and Jane but with Bigfoot! I couldn't stop reading it till the end and even then I wished there was more :) I highly recommend it :) ...more
Ms. Warchol
ARC from NetGalley

The main character in Jennifer Park's The Shadows We Know by Heart is sixteen-year old Leah Roberts, the "preacher's daughter." Her family endured an unspeakable tragedy years earlier that they still haven't recovered from. When the boy she's had a crush on for years (her brother's best friend) takes an interest in her, she should be elated. She is getting what she thought she wanted, and yet something doesn't feel right.

Everyone thinks Leah follows her strict father's rules.
Beautiful, evocative, sweet, and haunting, The Shadows We Know By Heart only flirts with a few of the YA tropes we "older" readers love to hate (e.g. there's an insta-love, but there is some reasonable retroactive justification offered for it; there's also a love triangle, but it's not at all ridiculous or manipulative), and largely stands as a solid literary work, with strong characterizations of its teens, adults, kids, and Sasquatch alike. With its wholly inventive plot, this is not a novel t ...more
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-favourites
A solid 4.5

It would have been very easy to go wrong with this plot, but Jennifer Park did an excellent job of executing this novel; full of everything I never even knew I wanted.
Resch Reads
*Book Received in Exchange for Honest Opinion/Review*

This book was unique, weird, and interesting. I was intrigued enough to want to know how the story played out. Weirded out by the concept of sasquatches living in the woods and overall the entire plot line while simultaneously  too transfixed to put the book down. I'm just sort of sitting here reflecting on the book and saying to myself, "Huh, so yeah, I just read that." and to be honest, I still don't know how I feel.

While the author makes a
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weird but I liked it!
Sarah  :)
Not really twisty or memorable. 3.5
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