Savannah Brown on why writing about grief is so valuable

Savannah Brown’s debut novel The Truth About Keeping Secrets is a gripping but real tale that you will undoubtedly be glued to from the very first page.

The Truth About Keeping Secrets follows grief-stricken Sydney who has to deal with the sudden loss of her dear dad at a young age.

Losing a parent is hard enough, but the mystery surrounding her dad’s death is weighing down on Sydney. As the only therapist for miles around their small Ohio town, her dad knew everyone’s secrets.


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Is Sydney being paranoid or is there a reason for her to wonder why the police can’t find an explanation for the car crash that killed her dad?

I was lucky enough to talk to Savannah about her debut novel, her inspirations and the importance of writing about dark topics.

Authors tackle many heavy topics in their novels whether that’s heartbreak, poverty, parenthood or mental health. Tackling such an intense topic like grief can be incredibly difficult, but Savannah knew it would offer a sense of support to so many readers.


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She explained: “Writing about dark topics, especially in young adult fiction provides a safe space for readers. It gives them a safe place where they can think about topics like death, but the option to walk away and close the book is always there when they feel overwhelmed.”

The author shared that she has personally suffered from bouts of death anxiety, which inspired the story. Savannah hopes to show readers that they’re not alone in their battles by sharing some of her personal struggles through Sydney’s story

By writing The Truth About Keeping Secrets in the first person, Savannah cements a strong connection between Sydney and the reader. Sydney quickly becomes a character that we can picture walking down the corridors of your school.


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The young woman has so many different traits that draw you in, but what really engages you is how normal she is. She isn’t a popular cheerleader or the editor of a fashion magazine or a mum who runs a successful bakery by the seaside. She’s real.

“She’s a girl who has been dealt a shitty hand in life and is doing her very best to deal with it,” Savannah said. She’s relatable to people because she’s struggling, she’s not sleeping, she’s crying, she’s confused and heartbroken. “Her reaction to her dad’s death is rooted in reality.”


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Savannah explained that ensuring that Sydney was a realistic and relatable character was one of the most important things for her when writing her debut novel.

The writer has sought inspiration from the greats like Maya Angelous and Mary Shelley and it’s evident that Savannah’s words will touch readers hearts like the work of her inspirations touched hers.

The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown is published by Penguin. You can buy your copy here.

Feature Image: Savannah Brown

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