The Secret Place by Tana French

I’m haunted by this story and the image of four girls so entwined with eachother that they become one. They are on the precipice of adulthood and yet holding onto the surrealism that is being a teenager, a child. Tana French is amazing. When I read her first book In the Woods I was entranced. She focused on the characters with a tenderness that brought them to life. I continued with her other novels ravenous for the writing and the story but most of all the bonds she created between the people. So tender, real and believable.

French tells the story of four girls; Selena, Holly, Julia and Becca. They attend boarding school together and are more then friends, they’re family. When their lives are rocked by the murder of a popular boy from the all boys school near by, their lives turn upside down. A year goes by and the murder remains unsolved until one day a picture appears on a bulletin board called the Secret Place, it says; “I know who killed Chris Harper”.

Stephen Moran works cold cases but like every other officer strives for more. What he really wants is to be a part of the Murder Squad. Opportunity comes knocking when the picture of Christopher Harper gives him a chance to help solve what seems to be an unsolvable case.

For those who have read her other novels you know what I’m talking about when I say this; the characters are what make the story. Tana is so adept at picking out emotions and portraying them on paper in a shockingly honest way. How many of us remember the turmoil of adolescence, the need to be loved, forgiven, admired all rolled up into one roller coaster ride of fear that maybe just maybe we’ll never be good enough. Tana remembers it all.

I didn’t want to put this book down. I found myself reading before work and whenever I had a few minutes to spare. When there were only a few pages left I slowed down because I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to leave Holly, Selena, Becca and Julia behind.

If you’re looking for an amazing read then this is the book for you.

“You forget what it was like. You’d swear on your life you never will, but year by year it falls away. How your temperature ran off the mercury, your heart galloped flat-out and never needed to rest, everything was pitched on the edge of shattering glass. How wanting something was like dying of thirst. How your skin was too fine to keep out any of the million things flooding by; every color boiled bright enough to scald you, any second of any day could send you soaring or rip you to bloody shreds.”

“She hears all the voices from when she was little, soothing, strengthening: Don’t be scared, not of monsters, not of witches, not of big dogs. And now, snapping loud from every direction: Be scared, you have to be scared, ordering like this is your one absolute duty. Be scared you’re fat, be scared your boobs are too big and be scared they’re too small. Be scared to walk on your own, specially anywhere quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. Be scared of wearing the wrong stuff, saying the wrong thing, having a stupid laugh, being uncool. Be scared of guys not fancying you; be scared of guys, they’re animals, rabid, can’t stop themselves. Be scared of girls, they’re all vicious, they’ll cut you down before you can cut them. Be scared of strangers. Be scared you won’t do well enough in your exams, be scared of getting in trouble. Be scared terrified petrified that everything you are is every kind of wrong. Good girl.”


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