Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

Setting: New York and Lawrence Mill, Mississippi
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: June 6, 2017

Haley Harrigan caught my attention with Secrets of Southern Girls and launched her way onto my "Authors to Watch" list. This book is a gripping mix of romance, mystery, and women's fiction. I felt drawn to the characters and their lives in the sleepy town of Lawrence Mill.

Julie Portland may have left Lawrence Mill far behind, but the memories surrounding her best friend, Reba's, death still haunt her. Especially the secret that she's kept hidden from those closest to her, and that's her role in Reba's supposed suicide.

Ten years have passed and Julie has her own daughter and life in New York City. When August, Reba's former boyfriend, appears and asks Julie to return to Lawrence Mill and help him find Reba's diary. The last thing Julie wants to do is go back and face the secrets she keeps hidden, but she never knew there was a diary. She's just as eager to get her hands on it.

The writing style in Secrets of Southern Girls is so addicting. It does bounce between narrators and decades, but the changes were seamless. Julie/Jules bounces between the past and the present giving her insight, but there are also chapters told from Reba's point of view and diary entries. I had to know the truth and couldn't stop until I reached the end.

Not every character is likable, though some definitely found me changing my opinion as I got to know them. There are also racial tensions and a lot of bigotry playing a part of the story, and I guess it's my location, but I simply couldn't see things that happened in this book happening back in the late-1990s.

The conclusion was just as fascinating as the rest of the story had been. I was definitely drawn to August, Julie, and Reba in this story and am so glad I joined their world for a few hours.


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