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These Things I've Done

Review

These Things I've Done

Dara was always the fun and reckless one. Aubrey was the cautious but caring one. Together, Aubrey and Dara were inseparable --- even with all of their differences --- until high school drama finally affected their friendship and a fatal accident occurrs.  As Rebecca Phillips’ seventh novel, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE takes on an interesting route in talking about high school bullies and coping with the death of a close friend. The story follows Dara and her time after losing Aubrey while also following the two best friends before the accident.

"THESE THINGS I’VE DONE somehow went even deeper with the seemingly basic plot. By contrasting Dara’s personality before the incident to the Dara after Aubrey’s death, Rebecca Phillips beautifully shows the development in her characters...."

Before the accident, the girls continued to be friends; however, with jealousy brewing and miscommunications becoming more frequent, tensions rose to a level that was obvious even to outsiders. From an outsider’s perspective, the girls’ fight was at an all-time high when Aubrey was pushed in front of an oncoming pick-up truck and lost her life. The blame went straight to Dara who hid out at her aunt and uncle’s home for a year before facing her fears and returning to her hometown. Although no one can believe she’s back, Dara realizes that she’s been the talk of the town. Unable to face her classmates who know about the accident, especially Aubrey’s younger brother who she had also been close to, Dara becomes a quiet and withdrawn girl while feeling upset and guilty on the inside. Readers follow the story of this more withdrawn Dara to see how she’ll learn to do more than just cope with living and whether she’ll be able to finally forgive herself for the accident that killed her best friend and ended their promise to be friends forever.

High school settings have been relatively common for young adult stories and they usually touch bases on issues within a friendship; however, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE somehow went even deeper with the seemingly basic plot. By contrasting Dara’s personality before the incident to the Dara after Aubrey’s death, Rebecca Phillips beautifully shows the development in her characters which allows for readers to get closer to them as we see their weaknesses. Phillips also uses Aubrey’s younger brother to show how a tragic accident such as the death of one’s older sister can be used to advance personal growth and how important forgiving rather than blaming is on the road to recovery. Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this novel largely because of the way Rebecca Phillips wrote it.

As I previously wrote, by going between the past and the present, Phillips did a wonderful job of showing more details and background information in an interesting manner; however, this technique also built up a lot of suspense and had me flipping through pages in search of the truth of what really happened to Aubrey and whether the school would eventually allow Dara to be normal instead of constantly talking about her and the incident. The plot itself was rather easy to predict but the curveballs thrown was what allowed the novel to become one that kept me on my toes the whole time which is why I really enjoyed it. After discovering Rebecca Phillips’ other titles, I’m excited to read them and would recommend this book to anyone in search of a rather inspirational novel when you’re feeling a bit down as well as anyone else who likes to read novels with a “typical” high school plot.

Reviewed by Alyssa L., Teen Board Member on August 18, 2017

These Things I've Done
by Rebecca Phillips