The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner

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Disclaimer: I received this book from Penguin Random House. Thanks! All opinions are my own.


Rating: 5/5


Publication Date: August 28th, 2018


Genre: YA Mystery


Recommended Age: 16+ (TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, sexual assault, child rape, child molestation, child abduction, romance, suspense, language, drugs, death)


Pages: 368


Author Website


Amazon Link


Synopsis: Ava’s disappearance was the crack in the Rivers family glacier. I wish I could explain to you how we were before, but I can’t, because the before is so filmy and shadowed with the after.

The after is all Vera remembers. When her twin sister, Ava, disappeared one Halloween night, her childhood became a blur of theories, tips, and leads, but never any answers. The case made headlines, shocked Vera’s Northern California community, and turned her family into tragic celebrities.

Now, at eighteen, Vera is counting down the days until she starts her new life at college in Portland, Oregon, far away from the dark cloud she and family have lived under for twelve years. But all that changes when a girl shows up at the local hospital.

Her name is Ava Rivers and she wants to go home.

Ava’s return begins to mend the fractures in the Rivers family. Vera and Ava’s estranged older brother returns. Vera reconnects with Max, the sweet, artistic boy from her childhood. Their parents smile again. But the questions remain: Where was Ava all these years? And who is she now?


Oh boy, where do I begin? I was instantly drawn into this book and I felt an almost immediate connection. I read 265 pages in one day. One. Day. Holy crap. Anyways, I felt that the story was AMAZING and that the plot, the pacing, the writing… all very well done. The character development was also well done and I just want to read this book over again.


However, I do feel that there are some holes in the book that I can’t talk about because of spoilers. I feel that the book took a sharp left turn from where I was expecting it to go and I don’t think I like where it went. I also feel that some of the side characters were just left off at the end. Nothing felt complete or wrapped up… but maybe that’s how the book was supposed to feel? If you’ve read the book it does perfectly match the tone, but the realisticness of the book might feel very offputting to readers who might expect happy endings.


Verdict: A book you’ll think about for the rest of your life.



Faith Gardner is the author of the young adult novel Perdita. Her short fiction has been published in places like ZYZZYVA, PANK and McSweeney’s online. She lives in the Bay Area.

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