Four teens, their secrets, and surprising friendship... What the Other Three Don't Know by Spencer Hyde (Review) @ShadowMountn

Welcome! I read this author's debut, Waiting for Fitz, last year and it was really
good, so I've been looking forward to his next release. Read my thoughts below...

What the Other Three Don't Know
By Spencer Hyde
YA Fiction
Hardcover & ebook, 224 Pages
March 3rd 2020 by Shadow Mountain


Will I still be loved if I show people who I really am?

Four high school seniors. Four secrets about to be told.

If Indie had it her way, she would never choose to river raft with three other high school seniors, mostly strangers to each other, from her journalism class.

A loner, a jock, an outsider, an Instagram influencer. At first they can’t see anything that they have in common. As the trip unfolds, the unpredictable river forces them to rely on each other. Social masks start to fall as, one-by-one, each teen reveals a deep secret the other three don’t know.

One is harboring immense grief and unwilling to forgive after the death of a loved one. One is dealing with a new disability and an uncertain future. One is fearful of the repercussions of coming out. One is hiding behind a carefully curated “perfect” image on Instagram.

Before they get to the end of Hells Canyon, they’ll know the truth about each other and, more importantly, learn something new about themselves.

What the Other Three Don’t Know is a poignant and gripping YA novel about the unlikely friends who accept you for who you really are and the power of self-acceptance.

Advanced Praise:

“This novel is The Breakfast Club meets 127 Hours. Recommended.” -School Library Journal

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My Review

WHAT THE OTHER THREE DON'T KNOW is a poignant story of perceptions and assumptions and how very wrong these usually are. It's about secrets, hidden hurts, forgiveness and friendship. It's also about fighting for others and life when faced with losing it all. Definitely recommended to contemporary YA readers.

This author has a very unique writing style that won't be for everyone, but is definitely worth giving a read. The dialogue is very much like reading the juxtaposition of thoughts as they're fired off. This means that sometimes the inner thoughts and dialogue is a bit jerky in places. The words and sentences definitely could have flowed a bit smoother, but it was still easy to follow and to fall in love with these characters as the story unfolds. And what unfolds is quite unexpected... I knew going in that each character would have something surprising, or some secret, about them. The secrets are alluded to in the summary, but I still found that each character surprised me. I enjoyed how they slowly began to find friendship in each other and work through the things that weighed each of them down. There really wasn't a focus on romance, which I felt was perfect for the story the author was trying to tell. Then there was this climatic ending... just crazy and intense, which forged a bond with these teens.

There were lots of nuggets of wisdom in this story and here are a few that connected with me:

"You know, good stories remind us what it means to be. To exist."

I thought about how we all start out life with a pocketful of coins and we determine how those are spent. I'd been flipping mine into the river, into boxes of memory, near packages of an edited past, into a blue-dark pit of shame and grief and anger and hatred and resentment, when I should have been investing them in new friends.

"Everyone wans forgiveness of some sort, but everyone refuses to believe in mercy," I said.

And this one from the author's acknowledgements, which I loved:

Lastly, I'd like to thank all those who struggle each day to balance who they are with who they are expected to be—by culture, by friends, by family, by religion. Please don't think you have to be only one thing. How boring is that? Be both.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a story that I couldn't help becoming immersed in, with characters I came to care about, and a story that made me think. I enjoyed it and would recommend it. I'm looking forward to more from this author!

Content: Some mild swearing.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

SPENCER HYDE spent three years during high school at Johns Hopkins for severe OCD. He is the author of the YA novel Waiting for Fitz. Spencer worked at a therapeutic boarding school before earning his MFA and his PhD, specializing in fiction, short humor pieces, and essays. Spencer and his wife are the parents of four children.

What do you think? Will you be reading this one?

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