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These Things I've Done Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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“A beautiful, wrenching depiction of loss, the aftermath, and an unexpected ray of light in the darkness. THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is equal parts heartfelt and heartbreaking, and absolutely unputdownable.” (Gina Ciocca, author of LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE)
“THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is a beautiful, heartfelt story of friendship, guilt, love, and hope. Dara and Aubrey will stick with me for a long time.” (-Lauren Gibaldi, author of AUTOFOCUS)
“This tender novel explores the challenging themes of grief and deep, overpowering regret.” (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Rebecca Phillips lives in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband, two teenagers, and one spoiled-rotten cat. She’s the author of The Girl You Thought I Was, These Things I’ve Done, the Just You series, Out of Nowhere, Faking Perfect, and Any Other Girl. Visit Rebecca on her website, www.rebeccawritesya.com, and on Twitter @RebeccaWritesYA.
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The premise for These Things I’ve Done immediately grabbed me. I always gravitate towards angst and novels that are on the heavy side leaving me filled with a plethora of emotions as I read. This story is about a girl who blames herself for her best friend’s death and the path to acceptance and letting go.
The chapters are divided between the Before and the After of Aubrey’s death and both time frames were equally important to the overall story.
Before: The Before starts at the beginning of Dara and Aubrey’s sophomore year of high school and about 9-10 months before the accident. In these chapters we get a real feel for who Dara is and it provides a lot of perspective on how much Dara has been affected by her loss and her guilt. Here we meet a Dara that is confident and reckless. She is never one to turn down a dare to the point her friends often called her ‘Dare-ya’. These chapters give a great glimpse into Dara and Aubrey’s friendship and how important to each other they were as well as providing the details leading up to Aubrey’s death.
After: A few months after the accident happened Dara moved out of town with her aunt and uncle hoping that would allow everyone time to heal, including herself. But after a year away she has decided to return home to face her guilt head-on and finish her senior year at her old high school. The Dara we meet in the After is nothing like her previous self. Now she is afraid of human contact, is sort of reclusive, and very fragile. In blaming herself for her friend’s death, she doesn’t feel like she deserves to be happy. Everyone seems to be avoiding Dara at school, whispering and gossiping behind her back and well pretty much right in front of her as well, except Aubrey’s brother Ethan.
I really connected with Dara as a character. Her pain and guilt was devastating and a huge obstacle she needed to overcome. A huge part of her healing was Ethan. It was obvious in the Before that Aubrey’s little brother had a crush on Dara and they had a great friendship back then as well. But in the present he helped show her that finding happiness and moving on wasn’t selfish. They have a rocky road to get through as they both are still healing but I loved how real and raw their paths were together and on their own.
I truly loved everything about this story. Dara is such a complex and well-rounded character and I thought her portrayal was incredibly realistic. And Ethan! Gah, I loved him! So understanding, sweet, and patient. There are a lot of demons Dara has to work through but her journey touched my heart.
I’m in awe with how well the author crafted a story filled with so much emotion and hope in a way that felt completely organic in every aspect and not at all overwhelming. This book was everything I hoped it would be and more! Definitely one to pick up!
I wanted an emotional read, and I got it! These Things I’ve Done is a beautifully powerful story of forgiveness- forgiveness for yourself and for things you can’t undo. Wracked with the guilt she feels after her best friend Aubrey’s death, Dara Shepard returns home to confront her memories and her remorse. But, Dara begins spending time with Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, and starts to guilt for an entirely different reason. As Ethan and Dara grow closer, Dara worries she’d betraying her friend as she finally begins to heal.
Things I Liked
This is such an emotionally resonant novel. You feel Dara’s overwhelming melancholy at the beginning of the story. She’s still coming to terms with her guilt and pain. There’s a sorrowful resignation that really breaks your heart.
The flashbacks to sophomore year were really perfect. They allowed us to see Dara as a fearless girl unable to turn down a dare, so it’s all the more devastating where she is now. It also helped establish Dara and Aubrey’s relationship. They are the best of best friends, supportive, caring, goofy. You become invested in their relationship so you care about Dara’s emotional journey.
Ethan McCrae is one of the nicest people ever. He’s so kind-hearted and just this effervescent ray of light that you want him to be happy. And his relationship with Dara develops perfectly - they talk to each other. It was so nice to see them be so open, and even when they’re scared or it’s hard, they support each other.
I really liked Dara’s family. After Dara comes back the dynamic is off, but they only want what’s best for her. She has some fantastic moments with her brother, Tobias, in the second half that I loved, and a moving conversation with her dad that made me a little misty eyed.
Things I Didn’t Like
I would have liked to see how Dara dealt with the immediate aftermath of Aubrey’s death. It is referenced a couple times, but I would have liked to be with her when she was going through those chaotic and confusing emotions.
Wanting more from the story isn’t that strong of a negative, but it’s all I got. This story was so easy to become invested in - Dara’s emotions are so tangible that it really feels like you’re on this journey with her. This was a fantastic story of guilt, forgiveness, and acceptance that tugs at your heartstrings.
I received a copy of the books from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.