Only We Know by Simon Packham

Book Review

Title: Only We Know by Simon Packham

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama

Rating: 5 Stars

The opening to Only We Know was interesting as we are introduced to Lauren who for some reason has had to move home and school to St. Thomas’ with her sister, Tilda and her parents. From what I can gather either something happened to Lauren or Lauren did something that is forcing her to repeat the last year of school and she has panic attacks about people finding out about this event. On her first day of school she is understandably nervous but we don’t know the full reasons behind this but it must have been serious since her new school is keeping the exact details hidden on a need to know basis in order to protect Lauren and give her the best experience they can. There also seems to be a very strained relationship between Lauren and Tilda which Lauren is sad about since they used to be very close when they were younger and she wants to repair the relationship but doesn’t know how. Lauren is also under a lot of pressure to keep her head down but also create a good experience at this new school but in the age of the internet it won’t be long until someone finds out and I am excited to see how Lauren deals with it.

As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, adjusting to the new school is going to take time for Lauren especially with her panic attacks at the slightest notice which she doesn’t inform her parents about. It turns out her dad was or is the education minister and that means whatever caused them to move must have been extremely bad especially since Lauren doesn’t even think about it in exact terms. However, after a few days with no one mentioning her life before she begins to relax until she notices a boy from her former life, Harry or H as she calls him and immediately she is worried that he can destroy everything. Much to Lauren’s surprise Harry doesn’t seem to recognise her as she has changed a lot since the last time they saw each other and that’s a good thing for her. Lauren talks about how Harry hasn’t changed much and the things he told her before begin to make sense but in their English class he makes some really subtle references that have Lauren worried and she needs to find out if he knows about her or not as that is going to impact what she does next.

As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, Lauren has been attending St. Thomas’s for almost a month now and after confirming that Harry doesn’t know who she is, she begins to truly relax but it isn’t long before flying under the radar isn’t enough for Lauren and she really wants to belong to something. While she has managed to make a few friends within the school when Lauren is presented the opportunity to be part of the school fashion show fundraiser she doesn’t want to turn it down and when her doesn’t seem against the idea she truly wants to give it a go. However, this is causing more tension between her and Tilda since Tilda also wanted to be a part of the show but doesn’t want to go anywhere near it if Lauren is involved. I understand Tilda’s reservations that if anyone found out about Lauren’s past it would also negatively impact her but she doesn’t have to be so mean about it. I am not sure where the story is going to go but the synopsis did mention someone finding out about Lauren’s past and potentially blackmailing her about it and I can’t wait to see what happens.

As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, Lauren is getting on well at school and organising the fashion show and she is adjusting well and making friends but I have the feeling that something is going to go wrong very soon. Her relationship with Tilda doesn’t seem to be improving that much but she has developed solid friendships with Katherine and Harry. Harry even asks her out on a date but she isn’t sure how to react since she thinks he doesn’t remember her but she isn’t 100% sure. The most interesting thing about this portion was Lauren’s interaction with her grandmother, after the incident her grandmother basically disowned her but it was actually her grandfather because of his old-fashioned views and he even banned her from his funeral which is bad but she sets things right with her and decides to take the plunge with Harry but it can’t last. I was wondering around this point when the drama aspect were going to come, that were mentioned in the blurb because I hope it isn’t too late or the ending might seem really rushed.

As we cross into the second half of the novel, Lauren has decided s going to live in fear and starts being more open and friendly even beginning to date Harry although they are taking things really slow. It is around this time Lauren also starts receiving strange things in her locker that hint and her past something involving a car, a gun and a person that might or might not be here. She is obviously stressed and worried about it but despite telling a teacher she is brushed off and I think this is beginning of things coming out for her. With Harry she is more comfortable since he is a familiar figure to her even if he doesn’t seem to remember her although there are hints at his home that he does remember that time but not Lauren but when they discuss second chances he agrees that everyone should have them so he might remember her and is just giving her a second chance. So far, I am really enjoying the book and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the end.

As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, Lauren is receiving more and more disturbing gifts that hint that someone knows about her past and she does end up telling Tilda about it and she is obviously worried for her sister. With the fashion show approaching, Tilda still doesn’t think it’s a good idea for Lauren to take part but she is determined to see it through especially since pulling out now would create more questions that she can’t answer. However, during the prep for the show the following night, Lauren receives a note asking her how she would feel if her knew friends knew about someone called Luke and what she did to him and Lauren’s temper explodes. She turns on her friends wanting to know who sent the note and eventually confronts Harry about it but he still seems to have no idea what is going on when she reveals she knows him as H before storming off. With everything coming to the climax now I can’t wait to see who is behind the notes and what is going to happen but I do have a feeling it is someone far closer to Lauren like Tilda who was angry about the move because of whatever Lauren did.

As we cross into the final section of the novel, it turns out I was right about Tilda being behind everything but the reason was far different from what I expected. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Lauren spent time in a psych ward alongside Harry because of their issues, Harry has severe OCD and Lauren had depression and was suicidal at one point. She returns there to try and make things better before returning home for the fashion show. There Tilda tries to warn her that there was more one “gift” she planted in the slideshow and it’s here we learn the truth about Lauren. It turns out that Lauren is Luke and she is a trans woman but kept it hidden after the horrendous bullying she suffered at her previous school when she started transitioning but everyone at St. Thomas’ is so supportive of her. While her relationship with Harry doesn’t work out because of their shared history with mental health she does find a good boyfriend in Conor who is willing to accept all of her and the baggage she comes with including panic attack and nightmares but she is moving onto bigger and better things. I was expecting this to be an average contemporary drama but it turned out be a great novel that completely blew me away in the end and I highly recommended it.

Buy it here:

Paperback/Hardcover: amazon.co.uk                         amazon.com

Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk                               amazon.com

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