Title: We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery/Suspnese
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths. Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.
We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean is a twisty, turny, edge of your seat psychological thriller. Set against the backdrop of a mental hospital, this young adult novel is a riveting mystery written in first person from seventeen year old patient Alice Monroe’s point of view.
Alice and her twin sister Celia have had a very rough life. In the foster care system from age six, they bounce from home to home where they befriend another foster child, Jason. Suffering heartbreaking abuse at the hands of those who should have been protecting them, Alice, Celia and Jason help protect one another from harm. However, Celia has developed an unhealthy obsession with Alice and she turns to arson whenever she feels her sister slipping away from her. When Jason re-enters their lives after an earlier separation, Celia is threatened by the blossoming romance between him and Alice. After a trip to beach goes tragically wrong, the twins are sent to Oregon State Mental Hospital on Savage Isle while Jason winds up in juvie. Jason’s attempt to help Alice escape is thwarted by yet another fire and tragically, Jason dies while Alice and Celia manage to survive the blaze. Now back at the hospital awaiting trial, Alice and another patient, Chase Ward, try to track down Celia before she can attack Alice again.
Alice is an uncooperative patient but there is no getting around her private and group therapy sessions. The doctor in charge of her case suggests keeping a journal to help her understand the events of her past and these entries provide a heartrending look into her life from the time she and Celia lost their grandfather and entered into the foster care system. As she reflects on the series of events that culminated in their first trip to Savage Isle, Alice is stunned by emerging portrait of Jason and the events that led her, Celia and Jason to this point in their lives.
Alice is essentially the good twin who is unfailingly upbeat and positive whereas Celia has been troubled right from the start. Alice is an excellent student who hopes to use college as a means to a better life while Celia skips school and sets fire to cope with her problems. Alice is overjoyed when they are reunited with Jason but Celia’s jealousy over their fledgling romance takes a very twisted turn. Alice seems to be an unwitting accomplice to Celia’s unsavory fascination with fire and Jason’s need for revenge but her love and loyalty for the pair clouds her judgment as events spiral out of control.
Despite the rumors and secrets swirling around Chase, Alice eagerly accepts his offer of assistance. She tries to keep from getting too close to him but he sweetly and rather humorously manages to sneak past her defenses. Their friendship takes a bit of a romantic turn as they join forces to find Celia but Alice cannot help but feel betrayed by him late in the story when she discovers one of the secrets he has been keeping from her. Convinced he can help her face certain facts about her past, Chase takes matters into his own hands, but in doing so, will he cause Alice irreparable harm?
We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean is a suspense-laden psychological thriller. The novel is incredibly well written with a rather ingenious and engrossing plot. The characters are superbly developed and quite appealing despite their troubled pasts. In spite of a few suspicions about how the various story arcs would eventually play out, the overall story is quite enjoyable and the conclusion contains a few unexpected plot twists. A very intriguing young adult mystery that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.