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The Second Life of Ava Rivers

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  924 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Ava's disappearance was the crack in the Rivers family glacier. I wish I could explain to you how we were before, but I can't, because the before is so filmy and shadowed with the after.

The after is all Vera remembers. When her twin sister, Ava, disappeared one Halloween night, her childhood became a blur of theories, tips, and leads, but never any answers. The case made h
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Razorbill
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Penguin Teen Hi Diane--you should be able to request e-galleys on NetGalley or Edelweiss! If not, and you are a librarian, feel free to email: SchoolandLibrary@pen…moreHi Diane--you should be able to request e-galleys on NetGalley or Edelweiss! If not, and you are a librarian, feel free to email:

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer
"Maybe joy is even more potent when you've known the depth of its opposite."

What a ride. I read this book in under 24 hours, that's how compelling it was. I expected it to be way different though.

On a Halloween night 12 years ago Ava Rivers disappeared without a trace. Her family has been a mess ever since. Her mother has thrown herself into organising fundraisers, search parties and soup kitchens. Her father has buried himself in the cellar, reading books on kidnappings and following every new
Jamie Dacyczyn
Hmmm, I'm going to go ahead and rate this as "Fine, but..."

I kind of got the impression that this was going to be a thriller or suspense: told from the POV of a teen girl, Vera, whose twin sister Ava went missing when they were 6. After 12 years of no hope, the missing girl is suddenly found, and the family has to deal with the aftermath of having their long lost daughter/sister again. But who has she become in that time, and where has she been.....? I felt like there was an implied "Dun, dun, D
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

At age six, Vera’s twin Ava goes missing Halloween night. For almost twelve years, the Rivers family barely functions. Their father retreats to the basement, rarely leaving the home. Their mother races from activities related to Ava and missing children. Older brother Elliot is lost in drugs. Vera can’t remember the last time she’s seen him. And Vera fades into the background, eager to move to Portland to start college.

Faith Gardner’s gorgeous writing made frequently me pause and reread p
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This book was all over the place for me. The premise is interesting but I felt like the author was inconsistent in the main objective of the book. Is it a book exploring the issues of family relationships or is it a mystery? And she doesn't do either issue much justice. The mystery is highly predictable but gets bogged down by all the "relationship" stuff. And the relationship stuff drags on and on and on and the mystery sort of gets neatly wrapped up at the end. I didn't care for this book at a ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2018
Finally, a YA book I didn't hate! A page-turner about what happens when the sister who disappeared 12 years ago finally returns. I didn't want to put it down!

Two complaints: one, the OFT-perpetuated myth of "you can't report someone as missing until 24 hours has passed" (I consider this to be downright harmful, the more I see it in film and print); two, it was weird to me how many people smoked in this book.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was totally into this up until the end (view spoiler). I think this is third YA book I've read in the past few years that have the same plot line right down to the end so that was a bit of a let down. However I did like Vera and I liked that her family wasn't perfect (even after her sister was found). That felt really relatable. ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was very interested in this book because it reminded me of the tv series The Family, which is one of my favorites of all times, but I kept expecting this book to live up to my expectations and that wasn’t fair. This book had good writing style, good characters that didn’t feel like real people, just that, characters and a captivating plot that didn’t deliver, in my opinion. I just didn’t like it. I heard it was a fast read because the chapters were really short but even then, I was halfway don ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book was quite the emotional read for me. It’s a story about grief and forgiveness; how many different forms it can take. In the form of grieving for a person who never was, in the form of forgiving themselves or not yet forgiving themselves but trying, in the form of how grief brings you closer to family but also drives you apart from family... I love Vera and the Riverses so much. I want to hug them and protect them.

What many people may not realize is that this book gives others who
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've found a new favourite.

The Second Life of Ava Rivers is such a gripping story that kept me invested. I couldn't stop reading. And the writing....the writing. Gorgeous. I could read chapters and chapters of all the beautiful metaphors Faith Gardner blesses us with in this book.

The characters were all so lovable and I fell in love with them. Vera is such a selfless, strong woman, who doesn't deserve the cards she's been dealt in life. My girl deserves the world. I love her so much.

This story
Eliza Smith
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Faith Gardner has written another fabulous YA novel. Like her first, Perdita, this one is a page-turning thrill ride. Vera, our protagonist, is a complex, emotional character with a funny, ironic voice. Gardner's writing is all at once snappy and poetic, and her pacing is pitch perfect. I read this book in less than 24 hours; I couldn't put it down! And I'm still thinking about it, wishing I could read it for the first time all over again. As a Bay Area resident myself, this book is a wonderful, ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book is called The Second Life of Ava Rivers, but her sister Vera is the main narrator of the story. When six year old Ava disappeared without a trace on Halloween night, her twin sister Vera is left without her best friend. Between the guilty feelings of their twelve year old brother, who was supposed to be watching the girls, and her parents' descent into their own worlds of grief and anger, Vera is pretty much left to navigate the world alone. When the unthinkable happens twelve years lat ...more
Claire Amarti
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved a lot of things about this book but the narrator's voice was probably my favorite thing. Vera Rose has a lot of sharpness and irony to her, she's not a sweet and saccharine kind of heroine - but she is so intelligent and so emotionally intelligent, that you can't help but fall for her, at least I couldn't. The story is a great what-if, and touches on some really dark and difficult things without being overwhelmed by them. What if the long-lost other half of you just showed up one day, ho ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie Thompson
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved every page of this book! I found myself thinking I knew the way the story would end in one chapter, and then realizing later I had been changing my mind about the ending after almost every other chapter! The relationships in this story were especially intriguing; I was particularly moved by the depth of complexity and bittersweetness in the relationship between Ava and Vera. I know I've found a good book when I want to know more about how the story plays out even after I've read the last ...more
Abby Rose
Nov 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I could not finish this book, and I paid 17 dollars for it. That’s saying something. Every character was so aggressively unrealistic (except for the main character, who was just boring) it made the book practically unreadable. Dialogue was absolutely painful. Plot was thinner than chicken broth. The writing was lazy and disenchanting. Overall, a big disappointment.
Amber Smith
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
A poignant, haunting story about being lost and found, about secrets, sisters, grief, and the redemptive power of forgiveness—THE SECOND LIFE OF AVA RIVERS will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
Peter J.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliantly written "what if" thought experiment with many twists and turns and plenty of surprises. It has many levels and is intelligently weaved into a can't put down novel. Highly recommended. ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, heartbreaking, painful, yet with a sweet core to it all.

Vera's spent basically her whole life in the shadow of her twin sister, who went missing when she was six. Her mother has thrown herself into victim advocacy, constantly appearing at fundraisers and events and keeping Ava's case in the media, while her father has retreated to the basement, constantly updating a website where people can report tips.

Just as Vera's ready to leave for college, a girl matching Ava's aged-up photo is
Nikki Stafinski
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As someone who is addicted to anything and everything true crime, I devoured this. It kept me up until 3am at one point. A lot of the chapters are really short, just a paragraph or two, which made it easy to zip right through. The entire story was really compelling and so well written. You could just feel the pain this entire family was going through, not to mention the loneliness Vera was going through. What is it like to spend six years of your life as a twin, one half of a whole, and then sud ...more
Elizabeth Mellen
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is probably my most enjoyed straight thriller. I did have a theory from the beginning that turned out to be right, but I like how it was revealed and wrapped up, so that’s ok. One issue I tend to have with thrillers is kind of being bored up til the last bit and then there’s lots of action - but this one, while not action packed to start, was an interesting build up. I felt invested in the narrators life, like had it just been about her and her adjustment and not a thriller/mystery at all, ...more
Aug 28, 2020 is currently reading it
so far i am on chapter 11 of this book so far what has been happening is that ava is a twins sister that no one knows what happened to her it was hallowen her and ava were trick or treating with there brother but there brother went to his friends Halloween party and there brother said that when they finished trick or treating to go back to his friend house and that he would take them back home and they did that but when they came back there brother was no where to be seen so her sister was on th ...more
Amanie McGee
So this was a ride. A sad, mysterious, beautiful ride. The story pulled me in from the start and even though I figured out what was happening before the book was even half over I was so invested and still hoping for a happy ending that I kept reading. I enjoyed having the perspective of the family of the victim and man did I feel for them. I spent a good chunk of the time waiting for the other shoe to drop and when it did my heart ached for everyone involved.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have to say, this book was really great. Tho I wished it leaned more into psychological thriller but still I could put it down. Didn’t expect that ending 🤐🤐

Full review will be on my blog the 31 of this month,
Rhiannon Rabby
Jun 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites-ya
I was surprised to see what terrible ratings this book received, as I loved it more and more with each page. It was riveting and astonishing. It had 97 chapters because most of them were so short, which was kind of weird. But the story, the writing, and the characters were perfect.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
✨2.5 out of 5✨
I figured out the plot twist early on 😈
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Many thanks to Edelweiss Plus and the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this for review. All opinions are my own.

Ava Rivers disappeared on Halloween when she was six years old. Since then, her family has never been the same. Her twin, Vera, struggles to know who she is in a family that refuses to move on from this one horrific event. Her mother now only focuses on "events:" charity functions, volunteering, public appearances. Her father has become a recluse of sorts, living in the basem
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those tomes I grabbed the first book I saw on the shelf. I am glad to say I was NOT disappointed. All I can say is that I’m going to need some time getting over this one.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. It wasn't a thriller like expected but still great. I really liked the twist at the end. ...more
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Faith (she/her) is the author of the novels How We Ricochet (coming May 2022), Girl on the Line, and The Second Life of Ava Rivers.

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