Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

| I received by copy of Secrets of Southern Girls via Netgalley for review purposes |

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What's worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can't forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba's first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie's past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn't the only one who feels responsible for Reba's death.

I was super excited to read Secrets of Southern Girls, the debut novel of writer Haley Harrigan, however I came away from my reading experience with really mixed feelings... The story itself wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I loved the writing style of the author.

Having lived with the guilt of killing her best friend, Julie agrees to do something she promised herself she wouldn't ever do - return to the town she spent much of her childhood in, the town she accidently killed her best friend in, the town that holds many dark secrets from youth. Julie isn't heading back to Lawrence Mill on her own; she has been convinced to return with her best friend Reba's first boyfriend, August. The two of them have existed since the passing of Reba, but never really had any closure on her death... Closure being in the form of a diary Reba kept during her last year of life.

Overall I thought the general gist of the storyline to be intriguing, not quite as suspenseful or thrilling as I anticipated, but definitely mysterious in nature. There were parts of the storyline I wasn't a fan of though, with some elements being cliché and others kind of clumsy in use. Also, racism is a part of Secrets of Southern Girls, however I think it could have been dealt with on a deeper level than it actually was. Racism is relevant to the story but it was kind of just there.

I didn't connect with main character Julie, however I did want to know where all of this was going, and wished closure for both her and August.

The diary of Reba was interspersed within the narrative of the book, and whilst I enjoyed this inclusion, at times I didn't feel like I was reading the diary of a teenage girl - there was a distinct voice to the character of Reba, but not one I imagined from all that the reader knows of her.

As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the writing style of the author, and would definitely be on the lookout for more work from her. I rated Secrets of Southern Girls 3/5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend this title to others who enjoy this genre of book.



  1. That's too bad this one didn't fully work for you. The diary voice definitely sounds like it would be a little jarring. I liked the premise of this but I think I'll wait and get it from the library. I can be very hit or miss with a book when I don't connect with the characters.

    1. I'm very much the same re: connecting with characters. If you do pick up this title, I hope you enjoy.

  2. It can be hard when you don't conect with characters. This one sounds like it does have some good points and I agree the premise is interesting. Guilt like that would be awful and I'm curious how they come to terms with that.

    1. Overall, an interesting read with the themes running through it.

  3. It's tough when you can't connect with the main character. The great thing about a debut author is that they have lots of books to write and their characterization might change!

    1. So true, Lindsey! I'd definitely be on the lookout for more books by Haley Harrigan.

  4. The cliched elements worry me, and it's pity there wasn't more suspense. It does sound intriguing though!


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