Posted in Books

Book Review: What The Other Three Don’t Know by Spencer Hyde

About the Book

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.

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.

My Review

An ARC of the book was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There were a lot of good things in this book, addressing the prevalent issues that teens face today. This was one of those coming-of-age stories where, amongst the whirlwind and uncertainty of being a teen, the main character learns valuable lessons and experiences incredible growth.

I will be honest, the beginning was a little bit slow for me. It wasn’t horrible to the point where you simply couldn’t carry on, but it took a while for me to figure out the plot and where everything was going.

The characters were developed well, and although they did represent stereotypes, I liked how Hyde added that extra edge and perk to each individual, bringing out that theme of how everyone hides something about themselves that others don’t know. And how that’s something that rounds out each of us and makes us unique. Specifically, I appreciated the character Shelby, as she shows the vulnerabilities behind being a content creator/influencer, and reminds us that we should sometimes unplug from our devices as there’s so much still to learn through being in the moment.

The main critique I have is that the themes and lessons in the story were kind of just blatantly stated; most of it was written out in character reflections. I can handle that to a certain extent, but I feel that its much more effective when its presented in a nuanced way, so that the themes are under the surface and detectible by the reader on their own.

Also, personally, I would have liked to see Indie’s mother’s death developed in a more impactful way. I think it would have a greater effect on the reader if we were able to feel more emotionally connected to the death–perhaps through more description on Indie and her mother’s relationship and why they were so important to each other.

The ending was very beautifully written. I love books that leave you with a reflective tone, and it matched really well with the river scenery. While there was some of that “telling” instead of “showing” I referred to in the last paragraph, the ending was overall refreshingly well done.

This book comes out March 3rd, 2020, so be sure to get it when it is released!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: What The Other Three Don’t Know by Spencer Hyde

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