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What We Buried

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Siblings Liv and Jory Brewer have grown up resenting one another. Liv—former pageant queen and reality-TV star—was groomed for a life in the spotlight, while her older brother Jory, born with a partial facial paralysis, was left in the shadows. The only thing they have in common is contempt for their parents.

Now Liv is suing her mom and dad for emancipation, and Jory views the whole thing as yet another attention-getting spectacle. But on the day of the hearing, their parents mysteriously vanish, and the siblings are forced to work together. Liv feels certain she knows where they are and suspects that Jory knows more than he’s telling . . . which is true.

What starts as a simple overnight road trip soon takes a turn for the dangerous and surreal. And as the duo speeds through the deserts of Nevada, brother and sister will unearth deep family secrets that force them to relive their pasts as they try to retain a grip on the present.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 26, 2019

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About the author

Kate A. Boorman

11 books234 followers
Kate is a freelance writer and artist from the often-frozen Canadian prairies. She has a nice family and a well-indulged travel bug. She also has an irrational fear of birds, so when you visit, please leave your bird at home. But do visit.


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5 stars
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325 (35%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 242 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,538 reviews9,826 followers
November 13, 2022
Jory and Liv Brewer are as opposite as siblings can get. In fact, the only thing they seem to have in common is their horrible parents. That's something, at least.

Thrust into the kiddie pageant circuit by their domineering mother, Liv, is spoiled and full of rage.

Once a participant on a reality television show, now Liv's once shining star is beginning to dim.

Older brother, Jory, has been pushed into the background of the Princess Liv show their whole life.

Suffering from Moebius Syndrome, which outwardly displays itself through partial facial paralysis, speech is difficult for him and he struggles to be understood.

Constantly in the shadow of his sister, Jory has come to resent her and her seemingly vapid lifestyle.

The story begins with the family heading into court as Liv sues her parents for emancipation and her earnings from her beauty contestant days.

Estranged from the family, she has been living on her own for months, leaving Jory to suffer through daily life with the parents alone.

You quickly come to understand, through their dialogue and recollections, that both Liv and Jory have been traumatized by their less than conventional upbringing.

Their mother is manipulative and superficial, while their father is emotionally abusive and a drunk.

Over the course of this narrative there is not one fleeting moment of humanity to be found in either parent. Is it any wonder the kids are full of resentment and rage?

But what happens when the parents disappear?

Forced to work together to try to figure out where their parents have gone, Jory and Liv undertake a late night road trip into the desert because, honestly, what could go wrong?

I will admit, the first couple of chapters, building up to the road trip, I did not think I was going to like this. The story is told in alternating perspectives between Jory and Liv.

They both seemed so negative and angry, I didn't like them at all, but once the road trip started, I couldn't put it down. I literally, could not stop thinking about it.

Reading like an episode of The Twilight Zone this book played on all my anxieties. A dark road, late at night, nothing around, getting lost, not having enough water.

It built some serious tension. There were definitely scenes that chilled me to the bone.

I do feel that this book will not be for everyone. There isn't a lot of action.

We have two characters, in a car, for most of the book, hashing out their differences and then we have both of them recollecting their childhood.

As I got farther and farther in, I really began to connect to the characters. I understood more of where they were coming from and why it drove them to hold such resentments against one another.

I felt real growth with both Liv and Jory and by the end, I was rooting for them.

I had theories on where this was going, it's an odd story, but it didn't end the way I thought it was going to.

It played so nicely with temporality in a way I found to be unique and refreshing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it for people who don't need to instantly fall in love with every character and who like their stories a bit on the eerie side.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I appreciate it so much!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
November 6, 2018
I'm somewhere between a 3-3.5 star rating on this one.

If you're interested in reading this one, please do yourself a favor and don't read the synopsis close to when you're picking this up. Go in as blind as possible. The comparisons that the publisher has made to other books in the description here tip the reader off to what the big twist will be (if you've read said books), and while it didn't take away all the enjoyment in reading this one, I still wished I had been more out of the loop going in.

What We Buried is definitely one of those books that you immediately want to talk about upon finishing, but have trouble finding the words because for the first hour upon finishing, you just keep thinking "WTF did I just read??" It was a compulsive page turner for sure (I finished the entire thing in less than 12 hours; thank you Humphrey Stomach Bug of 2018), but it's completely character driven with very little plot propelling it forward. I adore and highly respect when an author can do this; it's no easy feat to create a story that is so suspenseful the pages practically turn themselves yet little action is happening.

I'm not going to touch on any specifics here, but I think the reason that this, overall, was still positive for me, despite the tip off to the big twist, was that even though I had guessed the "what" going in, it still took 50-75% in to figure out the "how" and "why". My hesitation in giving this a higher rating came not necessarily from the twist being guessed, but in my slight disconnect from the main characters. The POV is told through alternating dual POV, as our main characters are brother and sister on a road trip to find their parents. Neither character is likable for a majority of the book, and some of the stereotypes surrounding each of their personalities felt a bit stale and cookie cutter. In the end, there are various forms of reconciliation, but for a book that is wholly character driven, it did feel that the development of each personality was minor and repetitive (although once you finish the book you'll see why).

Overall, this was a really fun, fast paced read that was just what I needed at the moment. I'm still not entirely sure what the ending means, but I'm guessing the author is leaving a few pieces up to the reader to determine for themselves. A spooky, creative cover really brought the story to life here, and that cover art is one I'll be remembering long term.

*I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,162 reviews1,517 followers
January 11, 2019
What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman is a young adult mystery that made me want to have some Twilight Zone music playing in the background while reading. Told from the siblings, Liv and Jory Brewer, dual point of view we follow them as they try to find their missing parents.

Liv and Jory couldn’t be more different from one another if they tried. Liv is the beautiful child, raised to compete in competitions and be in the spotlight always pushed to be and do more. Jory is a bit of a recluse, the total opposite of Liv. For quite a while getting Jory to even speak was an accomplishment as he wants to hide in the shadows suffering from a partial facial paralysis.

Liv had finally had enough of the spotlight and found others out there that shared in her experience who encouraged her to take her own parents to court. Jory thought Liv’s antics and courtroom drama was simply another way for her to be in the spotlight. However, on the morning the whole family was to appear in court Live and Jory’s parents disappeared from the courthouse.

To be honest I didn’t find either of the main characters, Liv or Jory, that appealing or likable however, that seemed to work for this book. The pair together began to become extremely fascinating as the story kept building and we began to look at their past and what formed them. As events unfold the story just becomes even more creepily compelling and addictive waiting for answers.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Cortney -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach.
826 reviews112 followers
September 4, 2020
What a weird trip this book took me on...

What We Buried has been on my radar for awhile, but I wasn't too sure about it because the ratings aren't stellar. I decided to read it anyway, and I'm glad I did!

I was definitely a little confused at times, and anyone who reads my reviews knows I need a concrete ending that answers all my questions. This book didn't give me that, and strangely, I'm OK with it. The whole book kept me questioning what was actually going on, so why should the ending be any different?

If you like unreliable narrators and endings left up to your interpretation, don't let the 3.3 rating sway you away... It was definitely worth the read for me!
Profile Image for Elle G. Reads.
1,557 reviews740 followers
February 19, 2019
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Actual Rating: 2 stars

I have to be honest, this book did not work for me. I don't know why I even continued to read it knowing I wasn't into it at all. I guess I needed to see what REALLY happened. Unfortunately, I felt more confused about the book AFTER reading the ending than I did when I started it. This book will work for some readers as evidenced by other reviews it just wasn't my cup of tea. I will tell you why below but it will probably contain some spoilers so don't continue reading my review if you plan to read the book yourself...
Spoiler Territory
So this book follow Jory and Liv- two teens who are searching for their missing parents who disappeared when they were supposed to be attending a court date (Liv is suing her parents for putting her through beauty pageants as a child -think toddlers and tiaras). However, on the day of the verdict the parents go missing... Thus the two kids go on a roadtrip to find them.

The entire book is told through this road trip and alternates between their POV's. This COULD have worked for the book, but for me it didn't reveal anything when it comes to their personal thoughts or memories until the very end (which was confusing as hell). In each chapter it appears that the two are putting together the puzzle pieces of what happened to their parents all the while feeling a sense of Déjà vu (has this all happened before?). Readers are lead to believe that the two could possibly be dead and are in some sort of purgatory- reliving the events until they accept their fate. That WOULD have been a cool concept... However, the ending doesn't live up to what the story shows the readers.

Towards the end, the two make it to the cabin where they believe their parents are hiding out. But then memories begin to surface and they find remains of some sort in the cabin. One would think the author would SAY whose remains those are but we are left without truly knowing... This bothered me a lot. I didn't spend hours reading this book to NOT know who they belonged to, did I? Guess what I DID. The kids seem to think it's the remains of their parents because they "remember" all of the sudden . But it isn't TOLD. There is always the possibility that After all, there is a weird time loop going on through the whole story.

This all being said, not being clear on the ending really frustrated me as a reader. I feel like I wasted so much time trying to figure out and understand what was happening only to be left hanging. This in itself doesn't work for me.
Profile Image for Kendall.
639 reviews641 followers
January 14, 2019
What We Buried is such a spooky and fun YA mystery!!!

Let me tell you... YA has really started to become one of my favorite genres! AND WOW absolute cover adoration for this one!!

This story is told from the perspectives of siblings Liv and Jory Brewer who we follow as they try to find their missing parents.

The pair together on this journey become truly fascinating finding out what enfolds their past. The story becomes addictive and wondering what truly happened to their parents.

Although, either character in my opinion was not likable at all! But this truly worked for this certain book.

I'm still not quite sure what the ending meant and I think the author leaves it up to the readers imagination to form answers. Overall, it was quite the ride!

3.5 buried stars!

I received a review copy from the publisher via netgalley. Thank you!!

Published to GR: 1/13/19
Publication date: 2/26/19
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,145 reviews1,010 followers
February 27, 2019
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

I also have a giveaway happening for this right now!

I have seen some other reviewers caution against reading the synopsis and yes, please listen to them and go in blind! If you like eerie adventure and character exploration, this is going to be one to check out! If you want my attempt at the vaguest thoughts possible... here we go!

This started out... strangely. And I wasn't sure how I felt. I hated everyone at the beginning of the book, but it didn't take long before I was completely hooked. And I mean can't-put-it-down-just-one-more-chapter hooked. At first, it seems like a regular old contemporary sibling-squabbling sort of thing. But there's so much more beneath the surface, and it doesn't take long for it all to start spilling out.

Liv and Jory are siblings. Liv and Jory basically do not speak, nor do they have any particular respect for each other. So this should be a fun trip! Sibling stories are so fascinating, and this one is no different. In fact, I think it felt more honest because they were so completely open with their vitriolic feelings. And that is all I am going to say about these two, because their journeys are half the allure of the book.

The other half is this: The adventure portion is very, very captivating. It feels unique, unlike anything I have read before. I hadn't a clue where the author was headed with anything and I loved that! It's a compulsive page-turner, because you'll feel desperate to know what happens next. It's fast paced, but not excessively so.  And again, here I am being vague because it's necessary.

I really only have one issue with the book overall. And it's spoilery, so that's hard. But. 

Bottom Line: Come for the dysfunctional siblings, stay for the bananas adventure.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
February 26, 2019
Unreliable narrator is one of my favorite things to read, so as I was reading this and realizing that’s sort of what it was turning into, I was even more excited. And I can honestly say that I have no idea what I just read.

I liked the dynamic between Liv and Rory. I didn’t really like either one of them, but their relationship plus their toxic parents really intrigued me. This is quite a character driven story, all about the two of them.

Plot wise...I’m not sure what to say. It was a thrilling and thoroughly confusing mindfuck that had me second guessing everything. The back and forth of past and present {even with the same event from each POV} kept me turning the pages. The ending is unclear and I think that even if I read it a second time, I still wouldn’t have a clue.

Overall, it kept me reading, even with my confusion. I’m eager to see what other people think happened at the end and look forward to talking about this story.

**Huge thanks to Henry Holt for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
504 reviews249 followers
May 10, 2019
Man, i'm not sure what I just read?!! I may need someone to message me pronto and explain that ending! If i'm on the right track here, I think this was a great idea, but very poor execution! I totally did not understand the ending (admittingly I was listening to this in audio format and multitasking), and i'd like to think i'm not less than smart! I like to be thrown for a loop in my thriller, but not completely lost, so i'm giving this one 3 Stars for that reason alone. I don't have a whole lot more to say about this one as there wasn't really a lot going on here besides a set of siblings driving into the desert looking for their parents. I think this one is worth giving a shot but i'd caution those who read this that this is one you have to pay careful attention to!
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,306 reviews219 followers
February 7, 2020

1.5-2 STARS


After finishing WHAT WE BURIED, I scoured Goodreads for spoiler reviews to figure out WTF I just read.

What I know for sure:

-Jory and Liv’s parents were at best dysfunctional, at worst abusive murderers.
-Jory and Liv’s childhoods were lacked basic love, acceptance and security. Their narcissistic mother obsessed about Liv’s pageant and reality show career. Their father alternated between drinking and rage.

What I don’t know:

-Are Jordy and Liv alive, dead or somewhere in between?
-Are the bodies in the cabin the parents or Liv and Jordy?

Also what I don’t know:
-Do care?

If WHAT WE BURIED had an ending, I might have rated 4 or even 5 stars, but none of the reviews suggest any readers understood the ending. If Kate Boorman wanted to leave the ending open to interpretation, that’d be one thing, but the whole freaking plot shouldn’t be left to the imagination. I feel like writers owe us more than that.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Melanie  Brinkman.
618 reviews76 followers
April 27, 2020
What hideous things are hiding behind that pretty mask?

Siblings Liv and Jory have grown to resent each other. Liv, a former pageant queen, led around by her mother. Jory, living with a partial face paralysis, has been left in her shadow. The only thing the two share is their awful parents.

When Liv sues their parents, Jory's sure it's just one of her gambits. But when their parents go missing on the day of the hearing, the siblings must work together to track them down. But what if there's more to find than they think?

A story of siblings and shadows created by more than just the gaps between the lights. A tale of the realities seen and unseen.

POTENTIALLY SPOILER TRIGGER WARNINGS for *********** grief, trauma, child abuse, emotional abuse, mention of bulimia, manipulation, talk of drug addiction, bullying, toxic relationships, head injuries, theft, underage drinking, insensitive language surrounding disability, and smoking.************

Bitter, and a bit reclusive, Jory was tired of being, the hidden "family stain". After a childhood of being pushed into the background because of his appearance, he was snarky, smart, and not afraid to judge those who judged him. He had no trouble believing both the best and the absolute worst about his sister. He had every right to be over his family's shenanigans, but was he ready to do something to step into his own light?

Glamorous, angry Liv was a little more than jaded by the pagent/reality TV scene. She thrived on the attention, but she longed for the narrative to be in her control. Young with a big heart, her emotional trauma burst through her soul even as she struggled to live a normal life. She never could let an opportunity to be in the spotlight go by...

One situation, four eyes, two hearts. Just how different will two souls process the same event? It's suffice to say that Jory and Liv had been damaged by their childhood, but what if they hadn't always been the people they were now?

While neither of them charmed my heart, their story set it on fire and shattered it. From vile bickering to tender remarks, the siblings knew were to hit for maximum effect. Together they offered different sides of the same dented coin.

My, my, what a bamboozling road this went down. A story resentment and rage, internal confliction and familial conflict, What We Buried leads you down a road of painful destruction only to throw you back to the start just as you've reached the finish. A thrilling character-driven mystery, Kate A. Borman constantly baffled me as to what was really going on, despite my numerous theories. The pace was twisty mess of fast and slow tugs that left me dizzy. Confusion followed me all the way to the end, of which I can't decide wether I loved or hated. Appearances can be deceiving.

Will you find out what's been buried?
Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews258 followers
April 6, 2019
A wild ride, taking the unreliable narrator to the next level. What We Buried has an ending you won't see coming or easily forget. What makes this story special is the constant uncertainty. Unreliable narrators. Timelines that are quickly converging. Completely surreal and will keep you turning pages.

No doubt, Liv and Jory only share one common trait - a disdain for their parents. I, too, share this trait. But no one wants their parents to just disappear without question (right? right.)...So when they do, the pair unite on a road trip to figure out what the heck happened. This book is soooo angsty, which comes across very emotional and real. These two are obviously so uncomfortable with everything - themselves, each other, their worlds. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. It's the delving in this that brings the story alive. This book is about Liv and Jory - it's completely character driven (perfect for me).

Told in alternating POV - an important concept in the story - What We Buried is a look at two siblings who grew up in the same household yet experience things completely differently thanks to nature and nurture. Pay attention to the details and read this book twice. You won't be able to turn the pages fast enough on this one.

(the comp to OOUL originally lead me to not wanting to read this but honestly, I don't see any resemblance to that book. Fans of Dive Smack will love this one)
Profile Image for Brittany.
857 reviews112 followers
May 22, 2019
3 Stars!!!

I don’t even know what to say about this one guys... I was very intrigued, still pondering- but the ending is not one I would have guessed 😱- need to process.
Profile Image for Amy.
500 reviews77 followers
August 20, 2019
I'm going to be 100% honest with you...

I don't think I fully understand what the f*ck I just read.

If you can read this book and not scream:
Angry Season 1 GIF by Friends

A few hundred times to yourself... Then you are far smarter than I am.
Profile Image for Kate.
2,051 reviews78 followers
October 26, 2018
I wish this book was already out because I need to discuss it! It reminded me a bit of Christopher Pike's Road to Nowhere. Loved how complex Liv and Jory were, and their tangled, twisted memories. Child beauty queens, Mask movie references (Cher and Eric Stoltz), disappearances, sibling feuds, blackout rages, road trips and a nightmarish landscapes.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,406 reviews108 followers
December 20, 2021
Originally posted on 12/13/21 at For What It's Worth: https://www.fwiwreviews.net/2021/12/r...

4.5 stars

How to discuss this mind fuck-ery plot without spoiling....

Liv was raised to be a pageant queen by her star chasing mom - which led to reality show fame, straining Liv's relationship with her older brother, Jory, and eventually leading Liv to sue her parents for emancipation.

On the morning of the emancipation verdict, Liv nervously awaits with her friends (fellow pageant girls who live in similar situations and have a lot at stake with the verdict) and lawyer at the courthouse, while Jory and their parents are reluctantly showing up for the spectacle.

In the blink of an eye, Liv and Jory's parents both vanish while walking to the courthouse. Like poof! Gone.

Liv gets it stuck in her head that she knows where her parents are and they're just hiding to screw up her court case and Jory is in on it.

Is Jory in on it? Are the parents dead? Is it Liv who orchestrated everything? Something even weirder? This is just the beginning of a road trip from hell as Liv drags Jory through the desert and to the family lake house in the woods. Yeah, that never goes wrong.

Despite the mystery element of the disappearing parents, this is very much a relationship story. Except, instead of romance, it's about 2 siblings finding their way back to each other in order to move on.

It's very rare to find a non-romance YA, never mind a fully developed story about two siblings. Told in alternating POV's between Liv and Jory, the reader learns how their shared memories of various events drove a wedge between them but weren't always accurate.

Liv was driven harder and harder to become the perfect beauty queen and the trauma she went through had her acting out more and more which was (mis)interpreted as diva like tendencies and temper tantrums.

Jory, who has Moebius Syndrome which leads to partial facial paralysis, was misunderstood verbally and frequently bullied. He had idolized his sister and it stung when she seemed to be embarrassed by him and brushed him off when around her beauty queen pals and mother. He retreated into himself and comes off as a brooding ass most of the time.

But NOTHING is as it appears in this book. They form an uneasy alliance and begin to mend their relationship again while on the hunt for the parents.

The drive is anything from average though. Without spoiling, I will say it's very eerie, dangerous and maybe cathartic.

This is not the book for people who like their endings wrapped in a neat little bow or unreliable narrators. This would be me lol - yet, I liked it!

I think what I loved most about this one, despite it not being my usual read, is how the author kept tripping me up but never used things as a red herring or as a way to trick the reader. She used the style to present a multitude of possibilities that lead to a deeper introspection about life, the power of forgiveness and overcoming trauma.

Overall: Different but in a good way. Very original, mind-bendy, character driven but not neat and tidy if you need that in your books.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,235 reviews464 followers
February 23, 2019
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNdN5...

4.5/5 Stars

Siblings Liv and Jory are complete opposites, the only thing they have in common is their resentment for their parents. Liv was a child beauty pageant queen, paraded around the circuit by their mother. Jory has a partial facial paralysis and has always felt that he is in Princess Liv's shadow. When Liv announces that she is suing her parents, Jory feels this is another one of her stunts for attention. So when the day of the trial arrives and their parents go missing, they must work together to try to find them.

I won't lie... for most of this book I was extremely confused about what was going on and how the story was going to play out BUT I couldn't stop reading. It was extremely addictive and I found myself NEEDING to know what was going to happen next to these two characters. This story is told in alternating perspectives between Jory and Liv. It consists of both the present timeline and flashbacks to their childhood. I really liked how each character had such a different view point of certain events that happened in their childhood. It was a huge eyeopener to see how each sibling was affected in different ways by their abusive parents. This book is definitely an extremely character driven story with very little plot. You really sympathize with both Liv and Jory for very different reasons as their story unfolds. I personally love unreliable narrators so both of these characters and perspectives were great for me.I loved watching both of the siblings grow and come to understand each other better as the story progressed and they started communicating their feelings towards each other.

I definitely think this book should be gone into blind or knowing as little as possible about the premise. It wasn't what I expected of this story, but I'm glad I picked it up. I'm confused on the ending as it is never explicitly said what happened, but I have my theories. Overall, it was both compelling and thought-provoking and I recommend it to those who are interested in psychological thrillers.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
949 reviews38 followers
March 7, 2019
What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman is the story of Liv and Jory. Liv is an ex-child beauty queen that is suing her parents for making her the horrible person she was and Jory is the older brother who has had to deal with their father's crude remarks about his partial face paralysis.

Liv's childhood was ruined by beauty pageants and a TV show showcasing the child stars. Someone started a lawsuit against their parents for making them do all that stuff so Liv decides to jump on the bandwagon.

Jory has always been in his sister's shadow even though he is the older sibling. His parents even denied him a surgery that could make talking a lot easier for him because it wasn't a great investment like his sister's beauty pageants. So when he finds out Liv is suing his parents he starts to resent her even more.

When their parents are supposed to show up to court for the hearing results they suddenly vanish and Liv and Jory must work together to try and figure out what happened. But things start feeling weird for both Liv and Jory. They both start feeling like they have done things before or said something before and by the end of the book things start to right themselves and everything becomes clear.

Man, oh man, what can I say about this book that won't give too much away but will still entice people to read it. Oh, I know! This book made me feel literally insane. I had a moment where I was reading and my husband was taking the trash out and all of a sudden I couldn't find a bag I had sitting on the bed and I felt like I was losing my mind while searching for this bag. Now, the logical thing would have been to think about it and realize oh maybe my husband threw it away. But noooo. Because I was so sucked into this book I thought I was losing my mind. Yes, I did accidentally give my husband the bag to throw away and yes I had to go retrieve it from the trashcan outside at 3 am but the moral of this story is THIS BOOK IS A TRAP. But it was a trap I enjoyed.

In the end, I went back and forth between three or four different ending scenarios in my head but the true ending wasn't any one of those scenarios. I just want to know one thing, did they survive?!

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for hiba ☕︎.
72 reviews31 followers
September 5, 2022
Wh-what did I just read? Wait.
I need a few minutes.
God, I’m going to throw up.

*10 minutes of staring blankly at the wall and contemplating my existence, the complex relationship between reality & time, and the state of my sanity later*

Have you ever wanted to cry from how scrambled your brains are after reading a mind-scramble of a book? My mind is numb. This is such a dense and intricate plot that my brain is struggling to fully process it, to process the ending and the freaking infinite endings within it. Wait. Wait. Wait.
Can the world stop moving for just a second? God, I’m trying to think.

I cannot? I cannot process this book right now. Here is a random list of reasons to read What We Buried because my brain is a useless lump of putty that is currently unable to form full sentences:

-Amazing atmosphere, amazing setting (the deserts of Nevada)
-Not just one unreliable narrator, but two--yes, you can imagine how crazy you are going to feel while reading this
-My thoughts while reading this: What is happening? *cries* What is happening? Why is that happening? How is that happening? What?
-Will keep you guessing at every turn of a page--and long, long after you have finished it, as you can tell from my current state
-Deep, complex characters with dark pasts and major trauma
-A broken relationship between two siblings (warning: will make your heart clench)
-Horrible parents
-It’s messed up. The ending is literally So. Messed. Up.
-Will leave you numb
-Has some scary scenes that make you scared of the dark
-Very possible that you will not understand what you just read
-Ending has multiple interpretations, all of which will make you doubt your sanity 🤗🥰🙂

I’m going to nurse my brain back to life and get a grip on reality.
5 stars, undoubtedly.

Not the idea that time--reality--was nothing more than what a person focused on in the moment.
Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,686 reviews155 followers
February 28, 2019
Y'all.... WHAT

I thought I knew what was going on but the back and forth made me question everything. In the end, I don't have a clue what really happened.

Toxic parents, messed up childhoods, bickering siblings... this had the makings for a great story but the delivery left me confused af.
Profile Image for Pauline Sacré.
215 reviews5 followers
April 8, 2019
3 stars because I was gripped until the last chapter. But only 3 because the writing is just blah and the last chapter left the whole plot up to interpretation. I'm all about an ending left up to the reader's interpretation, but this just left the entire plot unexplained which makes me feel like I read it all for nothing.
Profile Image for kim.
484 reviews41 followers
March 31, 2022
2.5 ⭐️ rounded

“You created your reality. Live with it.”

Yeah, the overall 3.25 rating doesn’t help anything.

The premise of the book was very interesting. Two siblings both “neglected” from their parents for very opposing reasons now on a road trip after their parents disappeared. Both Liv and Jordy were fascinating characters and I enjoyed reading both of their POVs and seeing how they felt the other sibling was favoured. It was kinda trippy to read all the flashbacks and it kinda made me forget about the road trip part of it.

Admittedly, things were hard to follow. I understand that it was a part of the plot and the book is a psychological thriller, but everything felt like it was being revealed more than discovered. I’m not sure I even got the ending tbh.
Profile Image for Nicole.
433 reviews32 followers
March 1, 2019
Actual rating: 2.5

As a fan of mysteries and young adult books, I like to look for great blends of the two. This wasn’t quite it for me, but might be perfect for some readers. Some of the descriptions give away the plot twist by the books it is compared to so don’t read too widely if you plan on picking this one up!

Liv is used to the spotlight as a former star on a reality tv show, Darling Divas, and pageant girl. But now Liv is suing her parents for emancipation and her brother Jory, along with a lot of the internet, think Liv is continuing her diva streak now that she’s out of the spotlight. The long shadow cast from Liv’s bright light is where Jory resides due to a medical condition called Moebius Syndrome, causing partial facial paralysis. Jory thinks it’s why his parents don’t pay as much attention to him and why his mother is so desperate to show off Liv, to prove they could make a beautiful child.

The book opens with Liv’s trial and her parents go missing from the steps of the courthouse. Jory arrives with them and as the three of them are walking in, his parents mysteriously vanish. Where could they have gone and what is Jory hiding? Liv and Jory jump in the car to find them because Liv thinks she knows where they went.

Jory might be the character I liked the most, but he was also pretty unlikeable. I knew he was hiding something and I found his spats with Liv irritating. There were flashes back in time for both siblings that fleshed out how we arrived at our current point in time, but sometimes I felt like they were too repetitive and didn’t always add to the story. Maybe I needed more time in each timeline to balance them for me and develop their backgrounds more because their parents were pretty standard evil and didn’t have any positive qualities so they seemed very one dimensional. One example is there were surgeries available for Jory that would possibly give him more mobility in his face and improve his speech, but he claims his parents didn’t want to waste the money or spend the time when they had Liv. However, his parents seemed pretty image obsessed and it made more sense to me that they would force him to have the surgery, if only to make themselves feel better. This felt like a weak excuse to make Jory bitter and hate Liv more.

As the sibling road trip goes on, the two fight about everything. Liv knows Jory is hiding something about their parents disappearance and Jory is fed up with Liv and her stories of other survivors from the pageant life and her obsession with attention. During their journey there were many strange occurrences that felt like memories or visions and gave their trip almost a magical realism feel. I kind of wish this went further into magical realism because it didn’t fit with the rest of the book.

This might be a case of me reading too many young adult and mystery books to fully appreciate what the author was doing. The plot and big twists felt very similar to another book I’ve read and I enjoyed the other book immensely, so I think the bar was set too high for me.
Profile Image for Roberta R. (Offbeat YA).
371 reviews35 followers
July 28, 2022
Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA.

Pros: Wild, unpredictable, spellbinding. Tackles human darkness, juvenile trauma and a damaged sibling relationship with honesty and depth.
Cons: Its non-linear timeline and complex (and partially open) ending may bug those who prefer a straightforward narrative.
WARNING! Violence, psychological abuse, ableism (countered), moderate gore, death by fire (offscreen).
Will appeal to: Those who can appreciate a book that messes with their heads. Those who aren't afraid to stare into the abyss.

Christopher Pike meets Nova Ren Suma in what some reviewers have described as a "psychological thriller" - except I think we need a new label specifically for this book, because that one doesn't begin to convey what's at its core.


Honestly, kudos to whoever wrote the synopsis for this book, because it manages to give you an appetite for it (well, if you like twilight-zone narratives and damaged-sibling dynamics, that is 😅) without revealing its secrets. And both the actual plot and the writing deliver its promise.
I originally buddy-read this one with my friend Carrie (I reread it before writing this review), and oh, the amount of theories and speculations and nitpicking (in the best sense) we came up with. Liv and Jory's road trip in search of their parents (and of themselves, even if they don't realise that until much later) is spooky, unsettling, painfully real and yet warped in a way that makes them (and us) question everything just so. (Well, maybe we're questioning everything much harder/readily accepting that reality is broken, because we ARE here for the twilight-zone content, while they're trying to maintain a grip on their sanity 😂). All the things they experience could have a (semi)logical explanation, until they don't. Is there a supernatural force at work? Are the siblings' minds playing tricks on them? Are they even (still) alive...or real? What about their memory loops? Did those things happen the way they think they did...or when they think they did?
To tell the truth, Boorman is quite honest in her deliver - the supposed false flags she plants end up being relevant, only not in the way we though they would be. And once we (and the siblings) figure out what's going (went? will go?) on, the payoff is absolutely satisfying. Though the ending will throw you for a loop (no pun intended...maybe 😉) and leave you with...questions (thanks to Carrie above for helping me get my bearings with it, but...I still have at least one...). [...]

Whole review here.
Profile Image for Roxanne.
1,052 reviews52 followers
January 21, 2019
Thanks to Henry Holt & Co and Netgalley for a copy of the eARC in exchange for a fair review.

Liv and Jory are on the verge of life changing news. Liv has sued their parents for emancipation and everyone knows they are going to win. But just as Jory is heading up the stairs with their parents everything changes in the blink of an eye. They just disappear.

Soon Liv and Jory are heading to a remote cabin to figure out what their parents are up and what is going on.

One weird tripping ride later here I am. So like I am super vague now, but for two reasons one I am still wondering what I read and what really was happening in the book so that makes it hard to write a review when you are unsure of what was actually going on and two spoilers. Like you might be smarter than me so I don't want to ruin the book for you. That being said this was super compelling because I was trying really hard to figure out what was going on and what had happened. Sadly I did not figure that out so I am not sure I love this or like it a lot.

So it may be that the author ended things a certain way so that we the readers could read into however we like, I will just be upfront and say that I am not a reader that enjoys making up my own ending. I want to know, like I really want to know what happened. So for me this was amazing writing and I have a few things to google because I admit that I don't know what Moeibus is and I now need to know this. The characters were okay and the plot was compelling. It could be a thriller, but it is not what I consider a thriller.
Profile Image for Spencer.
1,242 reviews17 followers
May 29, 2023




I'm so confused! I breezed through this book in about an hour and a half, but I have no idea what to think about it now. The narrators kind of kept jumping all over the place. Once you thought you figured out what was going on, something would change that, and it would be back to square one. Jory and Liv both remember specific, random memories from their past at random times. They seem to be remembering the same memories, but not sharing that out loud. And they are seeing random, weird things (like a cat with half a face and a spider girl climbing rocks). Everything changes in a split second and it's tough to keep up with.

Overall, it was a very fast paced read. And intriguing, to be sure. I never wanted to put the book down due to bored (which is a feat in itself because, essentially, it was all one big road trip. Which, usually, would get to be a bit boring. But this book never was). The ending is really what has me baffled, though. The author left it a little bit unclear, up to the reader, I guess, to determine what actually happened. And my mind is just completely shocked at the whole thing.
Profile Image for Carrie (brightbeautifulthings).
826 reviews30 followers
September 5, 2020
Liv and her older brother, Jory, have always resented each other. Liv is a former beauty queen and reality TV star who is suing their parents for emancipation. Jory was born with partial face paralysis, and he was always sidelined by Liv and their parents in favor of her career. The only thing they have in common is a mutual disgust for their parents, but when their mom and dad mysteriously vanish on the day of Liv’s trial, they’re going to have to work together. Liv is certain that they’re hiding out at the family’s old lake house, but a late night road trip soon turns frightening and surreal. Are their parents just trying to sabotage the trial, or is something more sinister–and possibly even supernatural–going on? Trigger warnings: death, animal death, child abuse, mild gore, fires, violence, injury, ableism (countered).

This was a delightful buddy read with Roberta from Offbeat YA, and I’m hard-pressed to think of a book more perfect for both of us. As Roberta so aptly put it, it’s like Christopher Pike meets Nova Ren Suma–two of our favorites! It has all the supernatural uncanniness of the midnight road trip in Road to Nowhere, plus the blending of timelines and ghostly vengeance of The Walls Around Us. I had so much fun with it, and it’s easily one of my favorite (slightly paranormal) thrillers of the year so far.

It’s quick-paced and never lags, and Boorman expertly creates atmosphere and builds tension with a series of strange, unsettling events and images. For the most part, it’s nothing overt, and that’s why it works: things are just ever so slightly out of place, things that on their own wouldn’t raise any red flags but all together make us question the world we’re living in. Whether or not the characters are functioning inside “real” reality is a major question throughout the novel, and Roberta and I had a ton of fun tossing theories back and forth. Few novels employ a non-linear timeline as subtle and effective as this one, particularly for a narrative as seemingly straightforward as it is. She’s not trying to trip us up on a sentence level, and there’s no confusion about what’s happening–just when, or how, or why.

Right from the first pages, we know we’re dealing with unreliable narrators. One of the very first images is Jory looking at a building and questioning its reality, and that sense of displacement recurs throughout his chapters along with the mysterious symbolism of the ouroboros tattoo on his arm. He’s never quite sure that what he’s experiencing is real, which made Roberta and me question whether or not Jory was even real! (I won’t spoil that one by confirming or denying.) Jory and Liv are also incapable of seeing one another clearly, as entrenched as they are in their personal childhood traumas. Jory is resentful and has a right to be, but he cuts her no slack; Liv is trying hard to be a better person, but she never really learned how to put herself in someone else’s place.

The character development is also excellent. The siblings working through their issues is inextricably tied up with the plot, and it interrogates to what extent we create our own realities. Together with the shifting timeline and eerie atmosphere, it’s one of the most effective paranormal thrillers I’ve ever read. It’s perfect for readers who are looking for something slightly different and don’t mind being left with a few questions. The end isn’t as confusing as it seems at first glance, but I suspect it’s a book that heavily rewards rereading. I’m looking forward to revisiting it in the future.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
Profile Image for Carina Olsen.
787 reviews144 followers
April 24, 2019
It will be impossible to write down my thoughts about this book. I shall try my best. I really wanted to love this book, as the cover is gorgeous and it seemed like such a thrilling mystery read. But ha. Liking this book was impossible. As I ended up pretty much hating it from the very beginning. Then all the way until the ending. Sigh.

I really wanted more from this book. Since, honestly, the mystery part was almost perfect. I enjoyed it so very much. But the rest of this book sucked. Completely. And that is why this is a two star for me. Mystery was so good, but it was only a small part. This book focused more on the two main characters. They were so horrible.

As in, truly the worst characters I have ever read about. I will not be able to describe it well enough. So I shall begin by saying that I did not like the writing one bit. It felt messy and wrong for me. It was impossible to feel connected to these characters at all. Which was pretty sad, as I truly did want to love this. Thankfully, despite the bad writing, it was an easy to read book. And it did not take up too much of my time. Though it ruined my mind a bit. Because the mystery truly was exciting. I wanted to know what had happened and all that what would happen. But oh. I could not care less about these characters. The siblings, Liv and Jory. Hated them so. Which is a strong word, but my god, how they deserved it. Ugh. I didn't care for them even a little bit. They were both awful.

I wish I could say that the characters were interesting. That they had exciting lives and great stories to tell. But they really hadn't. At least, I didn't find it interesting at all. Because of how stupid they both were. How they both acted like complete idiots. How they didn't seem like they could think for themselves. How they acted around each other; rude and silly. I wanted to love them both. But I ended up loving neither of them. The book is from both point of views, which was a little too much for me, to be completely honest.

Considering this entire book is about the two of them on a road trip, all alone. I did not need both point of views for that. Especially considering they kept having the same flashbacks about their childhood. It grew boring fast. These two siblings were so close as children. But they grew apart quite fast, because of their parents. Liv was beautiful. Jory had a facial paralysis that made him less beautiful to some. Including their own parents. They treated him badly, and that hurt my heart a whole lot. Because nobody deserves that.

Because, even though I could not stand Jory, because of his personality, I could not help but care about him because of his paralysis. It hurt my heart to read about people being mean to Jory, as he really did not deserve it one bit. This book focus a little on his paralysis, and I liked that. But, well, I also felt like it could have been written so much better. If the character had been written better. Sigh. But he was simply not a likeable boy at all. I felt for him, but I still hated him. Oops. I did not like his point of view much at all.

Then there was Liv. Their mom made her into a pageant queen as a child. Made her perform for years, winning often. This book is about Liv being sixteen years old, and deciding that her parents ruined her childhood, and so she is now suing them. Like others like her had done to their parents, and all had won. I wish I could say her story was interesting. But it was not. She was so spoiled. She claimed to be better, but she was not. She had these rage blackouts, that seemed so silly, to be honest. Not done well enough.

There was so much about this book that I did not like. I would never be able to write it all down. And so I will not say much more about it. Only that I completely hated the two main characters. This takes place in about a couple of days, but that was enough time for me to hate them both. Sigh. I wish I had loved them. But they were too difficult and not very nice at all. Sure, their sibling relationship do end up getting better than ever, but I did not care for it at all, sadly. It wasn't cute, it wasn't fun. Just silly. I wanted more from it.

But then there was the mystery. And I actually really liked that. It could have been done much better, of course, but still. It was almost done perfectly. I liked not knowing what would happen next. Liv and Jory are going on a road trip. To find their parents, whom disappeared the day of the court date. They both have reasons to find them, thinking they know where they are, what happened to them. They take their car and drive for hours looking for their missing parents. But nothing goes as they planned it. Not at all.

And I liked that a bunch. It was such a twisty mystery. Time was weird, memories were weird. Yet it was interesting and exciting too. Well, except for the stupid characters it was happening to, sigh. But yeah. I liked the mystery a lot. Trying to figure out where their parents went. Trying to understand why it feels like so many things they do have already happened before. Then the twist at the ending. What. I am so not sure what to feel about it. It was pretty excellent, though. And I liked the ending a lot. It was pretty great.

But yes. I'm still giving two stars to What We Buried. The mystery was so good, and the ending with it was pretty great too. But it was also such an open ending, and it needed way more closure. This book also had zero romance. Which hurt my heart. But yes. Two stars, because I could not stand these two characters. I did not like the writing. At all. And so many things bothered me about it. Still. The mystery was almost perfect. I would recommend this for the mystery, but only for that. The rest was not enough.


This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: https://carinabooks.blogspot.com/2019...
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