Thursday, July 16, 2015

What We Knew by Barbara Stewart

Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher & ARC: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9781250051394
Ages: 14+

I love horror. My husband runs a horror movie review website (, and we go all out for Halloween. The adrenaline rush of fear is like no other. As I was finishing this book the other day, I kept hearing scratching noises in the attic. Not something you want to hear when reading a supernatural book. Turns out it was just a black beetle, but everything in this book is not so obvious, and that's why you have to read it!

Tracy and her best friend Lisa love to walk home late at night, but they also know which part of town to avoid. In this case, they don't go near the woods because of local legend Banana Man who is known as a pervert. Of course, they only believed that story when they were kids. As teenagers, Banana Man really hasn't crossed their minds until their boyfriends decide to take a late-night trip into the woods and see a mysterious shack. Could it be a homeless man, or could it be the infamous Banana Man?
All is well and good after the visit to the shack. Lisa loses her necklace and a flip flop but no harm done...until Lisa finds a glass eye (like ones they saw in the shack) in her room. Immediately she suspects the Banana Man. Having a younger sister, Katie, Lisa is especially wary and becomes very protective.

While Lisa struggles with her paranoia, Tracy is caught in a love triangle (would it be YA without it?), and she's also dealing with her parents' split. Plus, she has her own secret of something terrible that happened to her. Trying to figure everything out and increasingly becoming as paranoid as Lisa, Tracy decides there's only one way to handle Banana Man, and that could cost her everything.

This book reminded me a lot of a Goosebumps or Fear Street book. Each chapter leaves you hanging and wanting to continue on. Tracy's character is not without her flaws, and there are times when I really disliked her. While she is the main character, I identified more with Lisa and felt more sympathetic towards her and Katie. In fact, Lisa ends up being the driving force in a major plot twist.

We all have a local legend, that monster that no one has really seen but everyone claims that they have. The reader easily becomes a part of Tracy and Lisa's lives and carries that fear and paranoia with them. Feeling that peer pressure to do what you're not supposed to is very familiar to teens today, and here, they will see some of the consequences that accompany those actions.

More than a scary story,  the book explores so many avenues that I can't mention without giving away major spoilers. Let's just say, you'll be jumpy and nervous the first half and angry and saddened the second half. It's definitely not what I thought it was going to be, and that's why I love it.

Dark, in more ways than one, What We Knew is equally tragic and frightening.

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