Monday, July 11, 2022

We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

We Made It All UpWe Made It All Up by Margot Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A unique and exhilarating mystery that asks, "Who killed the town's golden boy?"

Celeste Bergstein left Montreal and moved to Montana with her father, hoping for a fresh start in a new school. But Kray's Defile is a very small town where everyone knows everyone else and all their business. It's tough to be the new girl in school under the best of circumstances, but it's even harder when the rest of your classmates have been friends since they were in diapers. However, after an odd interaction between Joss, a popular school athlete, and Seth, his former friend, during English class, she meets Vivvy Kray, who is a direct descendent of the man the town is named after.

Vivvy takes Celeste around town to all the places everyone goes, pointing out who's who and generally getting to know each other. Vivvy has a crush on Joss, but he's been dating a popular girl for ages and feels he's beyond her reach, at least for now. Celeste initiates a back-and-forth series of fan-fics with Vivvy that feature Joss and Seth, speculating on what might be behind the classroom drama.

But the school year progresses, and Joss and his girlfriend break up. Vivvy invites him to join her, Celeste, and Seth one Saturday night for a bonfire and vintage, "found" liquor up on the mountain that overlooks the town. A game of Spin the Bottle, though, eventually pairs up Joss and Celeste. However, with the amount of alcohol she's consumed, Celeste blacks out, waking up alone on a bench in a town park at the base of the mountain, with no memory of what happened after she and Joss had begun kissing or how she got where she was. But when she returns to school Monday, it is to the announcement that Joss had been killed sometime Sunday morning and it wasn't an accident.

We Made It All Up was unputdownable! This new YA thriller by Margot Harrison grabbed me from the start with its dual timeline of "Then" and "Now," told in alternating chapters. Harrison's writing style was easy to read, and the action and dialogue felt true to life. I could easily picture the characters and see the plotline's events as they played out as if I were watching them.

The five main characters – Celeste, Vivvy, Bram, Seth, and Joss – seemed genuine. I was drawn to each of them over the course of the book. Each was vulnerable in their own ways, all having experienced traumatic events in their pasts, and this informed their states of mind and actions in the story. However, the story unfolds from Celeste's point of view, and I found her backstory intriguing and the book's climax harrowing and exciting.

The book's setting is a small town in Montana where everyone knows everyone else and all their business. It is situated near a mountain riddled with an extensive system of caves. I loved that the mountain and caves played such an important role in the plot and they became almost characters themselves in the drama. I really liked the vivid place descriptions that once again put me right there in the story with the characters.

If you don't like figuring out "who done it" too fast, this book is for you; the plot had me guessing to the very end. So often, I thought I knew what had happened up on the mountain, only for the author to twist the story and change my mind. But in the end, the answer is plausible and was looking me in the face the entire time. I found the wrap-up immensely satisfying.

I highly recommend WE MADE IT ALL UP to readers who enjoy YA thrillers and mysteries.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through TBR and Beyond.

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