Secrets of Southern Girls
By: Haley Harringan
Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS Landmark
Publication Date: 6/6/2017
My Rating: 3.5 Stars Tour Spotlight June 6-12 In this powerful, affecting debut, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed... Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.
When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.
Haley Harrigan delivers a twisty mystery southern debut SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS – a grown woman and mother, with demons from her past which surface. . . part young adult, and coming-of-age; haunting secrets that shape lives.
Julie Portland has a secret. Years ago she escaped this small southern town; however, she has never forgotten the trauma. Now she is in New York, and the ghosts of the past stare her in the face.
Ten years earlier, Julie’s best friend Reba died after falling off a bridge in Lawrence Mill, Mississippi. Julie feels responsible. They had an argument. She killed her friend. She swore she would never return to this awful place.
Now, August Elliot shows up (Reba’s first love). A walking, talking, tangible reminder of the past.
August is African American and Reba’s dad would not have accepted a relationship. They began dating in secret.
In New York, her young daughter Beck wants to know, “who is Reba?"
Julie dreams of Reba. She has tortured herself. She knows she will have to forgive herself in order to move on with her future.
She now comes face to face with August (Reba’s love).
He wants her to return to Lawrence Mill with him. He wants the diary. She does not know about a diary. She thinks of how dangerous a journal of Reba’s could be in the wrong hands.
Who has the diary? Someone will learn the secrets of her shameful past.
Would her friend be so careless as to document the things that happened that year?
August thought Julie (Jules) had it. Now if she doesn’t, who does? Nell must have the diary. With Reba’s diary entries sprinkled throughout, the ghosts of the past are unraveled. What really happened?
Told from two time periods 1997/2008. Two best friends, Julie had lost per parents in an accident and turned a little wild.
Reba works at Nell’s Flower Shop. Reba appears to have the perfect home life. However, her dad is a racist and Reba has her own secrets.
August never found closure after Reba died and he is convinced that someone has the old diary Reba once told him he should read.
Does anyone know the real Reba? What is the real truth behind August? Then and now?
Both Julie and August are shocked to learn the truth about Reba. Will they be able to come to terms with her death and the ghosts of the past? Things are not always as they appear.
A slow-burning suspense. I was not really connected to any of the characters and feel it would have flowed a bit easier if the chapters had been broken down the characters, for a little more organization.
However, for a debut the author clearly is a talented writer and for readers who enjoy young adult fiction, Southern Gothic, and coming-of-age mysteries.
A journey of healing and redemption. Looking forward to seeing what’s next for this newfound author.
A special thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for an early reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
"Harrigan is a great prose stylist who knows how to sustain the tension and tone required of a Southern Gothic novel. Her writing is evocative and atmospheric, whether the action takes place under the bright lights of Manhattan or in Mississippi's weedy heat."— ForeWord "Harrigan's novel, part mystery and part coming-of-age, explores the process of healing from tragedies and misunderstandings." — Publishers Weekly
"A twisting, sensuous novel about first love and innocence lost. As mesmerizing as the Mississippi heat, Haley Harrigan’s debut weaves two tales together in time as Julie Portland seeks the truth about her childhood friend’s mysterious death–a truth Julie has hidden even from herself. Harrigan delves into Greg Iles territory, navigating racial tensions and the secret (and not-so-secret) history of the deep south. In the end, like the “oil streak” river that flows through this story, Secrets of Southern Girls reveals a stain we all would be better off examining." — Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling author of Cover of Snow, Ruin Falls, and As Night Falls
“Heartachingly beautiful, SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS is a compelling tale about lost love and childhood regrets. This is masterfully written, shifting from past to present as the story unfolds to expose the haunting truth of one girl’s desire to be loved and the dangerous secret she possesses. Harrigan’s debut is a captivating read that won’t let you go until the very last page.”—Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author
“Haley Harrigan takes us on a searing emotional journey to a tragic past in sensual and evocative prose. Holds you to the last word.” —Carol Goodman, author of The Widow's House
Haley Harrigan’s Secrets of Southern Girls is filled with evocative, poetic imagery, relatable characters, and ingenious plot twists that kept me turning pages long into the night! A beautiful, engaging debut by a delightful and talented new author. — Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow
Blog Tour Stop June 6
About the Author
Haley Harrigan is a Women’s Fiction author represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
Haley lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and the second-most adorable Yorkshire Terrier there ever was. She graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in Creative Writing and Public Relations, and loved Athens too much to go anywhere else. A bookworm from early on, she started writing as a kid when her grandfather introduced her to his new typewriter. Her first stories were fanfiction pieces (though she didn’t call it that, then) inspired by The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. These days, she’s an avid and wildly eclectic reader, with tastes ranging from Margaret Atwood to William Faulkner to Gillian Flynn to Rainbow Rowell.
In addition to reading and writing, Haley enjoys hot tea, college football, margaritas and Mexican food, and a good Netflix binge. She is obsessed with all things Joss Whedon and believes that she learned everything she needs to know about life from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Her novel, SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS, is forthcoming from Sourcebooks in 2017. Read More