The Incredible Secrets of Hadley Hill
by Tai Stith
Genre: Coming of Age, Teen and Young Adult
Publisher: Owl Room Press
Release date: Oct 11, 2017
Content Rating: PG. No profanity or nudity, but some scenes of abuse and some scenes of intense danger.
Fifteen year-old Aribelle Cartwright is uprooted from her native San Francisco when her father gets a job in a different state. Instead of majestic skyscrapers and the urban bustle of the city, Ari has to adjust to the solitude of a rural town.
Right away, Ari notices something is curiously different about the hill her historic home resides on. Complicating matters is the aloof boy next door, Dane, who is nearly as mysterious as Hadley Hill itself. Will Ari be able to break through Dane’s cautious demeanor to discover the incredible secrets of Hadley Hill?
- The author is a personal friend of mine and gave me a copy of her book.
The Incredible Secrets of Hadley Hill is a coming of age story mixed with a cozy mystery. When 15 year old Ari moves from San Francisco to a small rural town she has a lot of adjustments to make. Having a whole summer to settle in before her mother and sister arrived she decides to restore the dilapidated old garden at their new home. Soon she meets her mysterious neighbor Dane and begins a new project, helping Dane discover his family heritage and the history of the old house on Hadley Hill.
After such an incredible summer together Ari doesn’t understand the coolness and distance Dane develops when they return to school. To make matters worse, Ari become the target of a mean girl who will go to any length to separate the two.
Hadley Hill deals with some major issues of abandonment, abuse, and bullying and manages to handle them in a realistic and hope filled way.
Ari’s parents are portrayed as supportive and concerned, which is great to see in a YA book.
The book is quietly atmospheric and the descriptions of the house, garden and hill are wonderful. Uncovering the long ago secrets of the hill is a wonderful adventure for the reader. The pace is a little slower than most of what I read, but I think it’s fits within normal for cozy mysteries.
A major plot hole during the first half of the book constantly brought me out of the story. Why is it that a modern 15 year old girl didn’t have a cell phone or access to the internet at home? It drove me crazy. Especially since they were in a new town and she was allowed to bicycle around by herself and often left alone for large chunks of the day. I just can’t imagine a parent today letting their teenage daughter do these things without a phone.
It’s a good debut book and an enjoyable read, but the pacing and plot hole mentioned above kept me from really loving it.