Review + Giveaway: The Secrets We Kept by Lily Velez

Book & Author details:
The Secrets We Kept by Lily Velez
Publication date: November 8th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

One year. That’s how long it’s been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.

Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something’s different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smile—all of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can’t even begin to recognize, much less understand.

Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, he’s convinced he can win her trust again, and he’s committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.

But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she’s determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.

The only problem is it seems her heart hasn’t quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, she’ll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one…long before Sully’s resolve ever does.

The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength.

4 Stars
My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading this novel!  The characters are well-written, believable, and heart breakingly real, and the pacing in this story was great, however, it’s written in a different format from what I’m used to reading.  The Secrets We Kept is written in both a multiple third-person perspective and a multi-timeline perspective.  Each time the author switches perspective throughout the novel, the character she is focusing on switches from present, to flashback, and then back again.  This had the potential to make a complete mess of an otherwise great read, but it was done smoothly and was for the most part very easy to follow.  Formatting the novel this way also added an element of interest that wouldn’t have otherwise been there, with the reader dying to know both what happened before and what happens next.  I was completely on my toes and trying to solve the puzzle the entire time I was reading The Secrets We Kept.

Another great thing about this novel is that it focuses on some really tough issues that frankly aren’t explored enough in Young Adult literature, the primary being growing up in the foster care system and depression.  While I did find myself feeling a bit put-off and frankly offended by some aspects of how the author dealt with depression, upon reflection I realized that it was because it was almost too accurate.  Lily Velez did a fabulous job addressing not only the stigma other people attach to taking anti-depressants, but also the stigma those suffering attach to themselves.

“…they didn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to take something that could maker her feel better.  She simply wished she could be better to begin with.  Committing to a medication regimen was like admitting that she was inherently defective.”

As somebody who has suffered with depression nearly my entire life, I saw a lot of myself in Cadence and was struck by how acutely her feelings mirrored my own.

Overall, this novel was in no way a light and fluffy read.  It’s heartbreaking, dramatic, and almost painful in its accuracy.  I think it speaks to readers who are dealing with a myriad of life-altering circumstances and would be an important resource for those who aren’t suffering to better understand and empathize with those who are.  I think the most important take-away of The Secrets We Kept is to never judge somebody by what you see on the outside, because you have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors.  This novel explores that point remarkably well and demonstrates it in spades.


LilyLily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she’s not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at

Lily’s debut young adult novel, The Secrets We Kept, released on November 8, 2015.


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