The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart

The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart. Delacorte Press, 2022. 9781984848888

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book? Lily is an A student, a track star, and suffering from debilitating anxiety, which she keeps a secret from her family and friends. Her older sister, Alice, has been away at a treatment center for suicidal ideation and to treat her bipolar disorder and Lily refused to visit while Alice was away. But now Alice is coming home and Lily doesn’t know how to handle the emotions that are coming up for her. Lily feels external and internal pressure to succeed and has dangerous perfectionist tendencies in both academics and athletics. A poetry/art contest forces her to get to know a new student, Micah, who was with Alice at the treatment center for depression. Micah helps Lily get in touch with her emotions and a spark of romance grows between the two. Micah and Lily create anonymous public art/poetry installations that encourage their fellow students to share their inner worlds and words. But Lily needs more help than mere poetry can give. Lily and her family are white and Micah is Latino. Includes mention of self harm, suicidal ideation.

I couldn’t put this book down and was completely invested in Lily’s story. Reading the author’s note at the end reveals that this is an #ownvoices book, which makes sense given how authentic the story feels from start to finish. Highly recommended for grades 9+.

Anything you did not like about the book? No, but it was very hard to read. Anyone struggling with anxiety or suicidal ideation should be careful reading this book.

To whom would you recommend this book? High school students who liked All the Bright Places, This is My Brain in Love or Eliza and her Monsters will love this book.

Who should buy this book? All high sch0ol libraries, as well as all public libraries. 

Where would you shelve it? Realistic fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: May 19, 2022

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