Thank you so much to the lovely Eric Smith for sending me one of his agent copies of These Things I've Done for review. I don't know how many of y'all have read the synopsis for this book, but the one line that made me absolutely NEED it was this:
"It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death."
Specifically the part about her role. It had me intrigued. What was her role? What happened? Why did she leave? Why did she come back? I was full of questions just from the simple summary of the book and I had to have answers.
These Things I've Done follows Dara in chapters alternating between her Sophomore year and her senior year in high school. Essentially showing her life before and after the incident that ended up leaving her best friend Aubrey dead. It feels only right to split this review into the before and the after.
Before: Dara and Aubrey are your typical best friends. They share everything and are inseparable until eventually things begin to push them apart. Such is life. Things happen. Boys, school, family etc. Despite these issues these two are a pair and you feel it when they are at odds. Something just feels wrong and I applaud Rebecca for making it so. These chapters provide so much insight into exactly how much this incident has changed Dara and the way she lives her life. The full chapters are so much better than small memories sprinkled throughout as internal flashbacks.
After: In the chapters showing Dara in her senior year we see kind of a dark version of her. She's racked with guilt and kind of feels like she deserves it. We don't know how Aubrey died, just that it has majorly changed Dara. So much that she left for a year and came back. We can see how hard it is for her and how she is kind of punishing herself and we still don't know why. But one bright spot is Ethan. Aubrey's younger brother who used to hang out with them all the time. He kind of represents familiarity for Dara and at the same time she feels she doesn't deserve kindness from anyone. Especially Ethan, but he's my favorite. He's just the best and his growth helps her grow and see things through a new light.
These Things I've Done conquers friendship, betrayal, love, loss, guilt, self discovery, and even a splash of consent. Rebecca did a wonderful job crafting Dara's story as well as Ethan's. Aubrey's as well despite hers being so short. This book was fantastic and I could not put it down. I finished it within 24 hours of starting it and I didn't want it to end. When the reveal of how Aubrey died actually came about I was BROKEN. It was just heartbreaking to actually see and understand why Dara felt the way she did and also why she probably shouldn't. This book will hook you from the very last line of chapter one and it will not let you go.
Grab yourself a copy of These Things I've Done today. You won't regret it. Don't forget to check out Rebecca Phillips on Twitter as well as Eric Smith if you're looking for great recommendations. Do you plan on checking this one out? Let me know in the comments.