These Things I've Done
By: Rebecca Phillips
Published: August 1st 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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Goodreads description--A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.
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. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.
So perhaps the "Before" and "After" section of the description should have been a warning to me that this book jumps back and forth chronologically, but I didn't pick up on that. And unfortunately, I struggle with books that jump around like this. I think that's because inevitably one storyline appeals to me more than the other which means whenever it is time to switch back to the other I'm disappointed and frustrated. And that was the case with These Things I've Done as well. In situations like this, the before is obviously leading up to the after and sometimes it isn't necessary to see the details of the before to figure out how we got to the after. But one positive side to this back and forth was the build up in finding out exactly how Aubrey was killed and what Dara's role was that would cause so much guilt.
Dara leaves town to go live with her aunt and uncle shortly after Aubrey's death and she spend her junior year there, but ultimately she decides that she needs to come back home for senior year to face what she's done. She's not exactly looking forward to it, but it needs to be done. Obviously, the kids at school aren't particularly welcoming to the girl who killed her best friend. But it goes beyond that. Aubrey's younger brother. Dara's own family. All of these relationships have changed and have struggled as a result of this tragedy.
I didn't dislike Dara at all. She's been through a terrible, life-changing event. And truth be told, anyone could have been in her shoes. Plus, I feel like anyone would feel all the things that Dara feels. I appreciated that she didn't fight therapy like we've seen characters do in the past. It was just part of her journey. Although, I kind of wish we'd been exposed to more of her counselling. Yet even though her guilt was understandable, it wasn't always easy or fun to read about.
Ethan, on the other hand, was beyond likeable and easy to read about. I enjoyed him in the before and in the after. It wasn't that he didn't struggle with his sister's death or find himself angry. It was kind of the opposite. The best thing about his character was how he chose to respond to his feelings.
I think I would have enjoyed These Things I've Done more if I hadn't read such other great books recently. That being said, I still really enjoyed These Things I've Done. It had a few flaws, but I wanted to keep reading for the most part. These Things I've Done gets 3.5 Stars. Have you read These Things I've Done? What did you think? Let me know!