For some reason, outside of books or essays concerning real world/life problems like finance, health, psychology, history, etc., I find myself gravitating toward mostly Young Adult literature and books for my fiction stories. Now, obviously there are several great stories centered around adults that have escapist fantasies of all stripes, and I have read, and have several in the “to be read” pile, but still find far more centered on young adults on my book shelves. I think this has something to do with the market demand and availability that those books get far more of a marketing push than others added with easier to find mass market books with diverse characters and stories in the YA genre than in standard adult offerings. This could also simply be a blind spot for myself, so if you have some suggestions for interesting books, feel free to drop them in the comments. On to the review!
Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards tells the story of Cleo, a young woman who is celebrating her 18th birthday with a surprise scavenger hunt. As a driven, inquisitive young woman with a desire to pursue criminal investigation as her field of study, a birthday scavenger hunt seems to be the perfect adventure for Cleo. However, as she begins, and continues, the hunt, the mystery, and its real intentions, begins to unfold and turn darker and dangerous. The supposed celebration of her birthday is rooted in the death of her off again/on again boyfriend during a camping and rafting trip from her previous birthday celebration a year before. Cleo reluctantly accepts aid from her best friend, Hope, and brother, Connor, in solving the clues left for her and trying to find out who is behind the scavenger hunt. Yet, as the mystery deepens, Cleo realizes that the person behind the hunt knows far more than she initially believed, and the secrets they possess could jeopardize Cleo’s, and everyone she loves, future unless she can figure out who is behind the mystery.
Ultimately, Seven Dirty Secrets is an interesting mystery story, for most of the book. I imagine there would be some complaints concerning the reveal and circumstances around it; a criticism I would tend to agree with, but, overall, it is still a well told and intriguing narrative. One of the bigger selling points is the inclusion of diverse characters from various backgrounds without the need to telegraph or advertise it. They simply exist and are hard working and intelligent and flawed and fully developed characters. I know that seems like such a low bar to cross, and it is, but still not passed enough. As well, there are dives into difficult issues and conversations that do not feel or seem trite or easy. There are no clear or carefree solutions to these discussions either; more so there is acknowledgment of the problem and attempts at navigating the issue with understanding and, at least some, grace.
All in all, Seven Dirty Secrets is a good read to lose oneself for an afternoon or two. Exactly the kind of book that will probably become a Netflix or Hulu movie down the line. Either way, read the book if you have the chance.