Review ~ The Secrets of Lake Road

Author: Karen Katchur
Genre: Mystery
Page Length: 320 Pages
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Received via publisher (Thanks SMP)

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her—but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur is a riveting novel that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.
The most important component of this story is the setting, Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania. I've been there a few times, and as such I can strongly say that Katchur did a great job describing the mood and mentality of the place (which are both really important to understanding the story). The Poconos is an odd place. It's very laid back, and the same families coming year after year. When you're in the Poconos, everything is timeless. This being said, it really plays a part in understanding the actions and motivations of the characters in this book.

I honestly wasn't much a fan of any of the characters. Each has their own vices and flaws, yet none of the characters are very interesting. Jo and Kevin are horrible parents, and that really irritated me. But once again, the setting is the Poconos, and I've seen firsthand that everything is laid back so while it annoyed me to no end to see these poor parenting skills, it's authentic to the story. 

The story is written in 3rd person with alternating POVs. It helped round out the story, and I loved the deep inner thoughts and dialogue we were shown. The writing was mediocre, but sometimes I felt the writing was awkward in parts or just unrealistic. One of the POVs is a 12 year old girl, and her actions and thoughts were not very authentic to that age. Also some scenes felt like unnecessary filler. 

This book has some charm through the pull and lure of the Poconos that Katchur so wonderfully depicts. The mystery was what really holds your attention. We're all anxious to figure out what happened all those years ago. It was artfully spread throughout the book with suspicions and clues and tidbits of information until all is revealed. That being said, the denouement was really underwhelming and could have been improved. 

Overall I liked the setting and the mystery, but the characters and the writing both annoyed me.
Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.


  1. I love the cover of this!! Stinks the characters and writing were on the annoying side. At least the mystery was enough to keep it going - great review!

  2. Wow that cover looks very serene. But it sucks that you didn't enjoy the writing and the characters. Those are two things that also make me put a book down :/ Awesome review, Rachel!

    P.S. I still keep admiring your new blog design :)

    ~Karina @ A Reader Under The Sea

  3. Lovely review. This book has a wonderful cover, sounds like a wonderful setting to put a book in. I googled images of the place and it looks beautiful. This book sounds okay, but not something I'd be in a rush to read.

  4. Thanks for your honest thoughts! Sorry this one didn't quite work for you. I like the premise, but I don't know if I'd really like the overall story, if that makes sense? haha


  5. First I have to say I love the new rating system. Roses are the best! The cover looks so mysterious and simple that it's really making me want to read it just based on that. I guess this doesn't really sound like a book for EVERYONE but I will take a second look at it. Your review really helped, as always my trusteeeee frandd! :D

    Alex @ The Book's Buzz

  6. I'm always a sucker for mysteries and I really like that this one stays true to the reality of it's setting. Too bad about the characters and the writing though. It really is a bummer when the two fail to impress. :/ Anyway, lovely review, Rachel!

  7. Gah! Why must the characters be a bad point?!?! Ugh. For me, a book that may have great setting and mystery but not great characters and/or writing is a book I would not enjoy, so I'd better skip this one, even when it sounded interesting... or really, no. I will try it. The pull is strong, haha. Great review, Rachel. :)

    Vane at Books With Chemistry

  8. You know how much I love mysteries and thrillers Rachel, so it's a shame this was a bit flat for you. :( It's always a bit annoying when characters feel inauthentic to their age and when scenes seem to have no purpose but for filter. Definitely going to see what others think of this, but from what you've said I'm probably going to still read it, but just have it in the middle of my TBR.

    Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review Rach! ♥

  9. It's very frustrating when when the characters annoy you so I totally understand !
    Anyway, great review :)

    New follower on bloglovin' ^^

    @ "Book Addict"

  10. It sounds like this one was a decent read but like it didn't have anything too exciting to grab your attention completely. It's so cool when you read a book that is set in a place where you have been yourself and you can make some comparisons! I just wish the characters were more interesting - that would have been what would draw me to try it myself.


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