Book Title:
All the Things We Do in the Dark
Book Author:
Saundra Mitchell
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
October 29th, 2019
Date Read:
November 18th, 2019
Kindle Edition


There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her. And Ava isn’t letting anything get in the way of finally, finally seeking peace. But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully-constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building. Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

My Review

I was really drawn to All the Things We Do in the Dark from the moment I read the synopsis for the book. Granted, I kind of just heard about this book like two weeks ago, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but it sounded really good and I wanted to check it out.

I was excited to start reading this one. I settled down and started reading it, and to be honest, I wasn’t really a fan of it at first. I kind of felt like it was all over the place in the beginning chapters, and I was confused and the writing style was a bit strange to me, almost a constant switch between the narrator actually narrating the story and then talking to the reader in a second person point of view. Like I said, a little strange.

At first, this kind of discouraged me from reading the book because it was a weird style that just didn’t really mesh right with me. I thought about putting the book down and picking up a different one several times, but I decided that I would keep going – I wasn’t even ten percent through it, so I didn’t want to give up on it already.

Wow, am I glad I stuck with it. While the first person/second person point of view shifts were annoying at first, for the most part they kind of ceased to exist and it was told in mostly first person for the rest of the book. But I also got a great understanding of why the author chose to write the book this way, so I gained an appreciation for it, even though I didn’t like it at first.

Sound confusing? It is, a bit. It’s the kind of book that you need to actually read to understand, because it’s difficult to explain. Anyway, let’s get into a brief rundown of the plot, shall we?

“I’m obligated to say it out loud for everyone who can’t. For the ones who don’t have bulletproof stories even though we’re all equal: something evil happened, and it happened to us. We didn’t make the evil happen.”

All the Things We Do in the Dark begins with Ava giving us a look into one of the most horrifying moments in her life: her rape, at nine years old that left a large scar on the side of her face. This moment shapes who Ava becomes and is an important part of her that stays with her as she navigates her life: from her relationships to her ability to even trust herself. As the story goes on, we learn about her and her best friend Syd, and the distance that is growing between them, for some strange reason that Ava can not figure out. Because of this, Ava finds company in someone else: Hailey, a girl who loves Harry Potter and is also the daughter of the police officer who was in charge of Ava’s rape case when she was younger.

“Hands framing mouths don’t keep in the whispers; they just make it obvious that people are whispering, about you.”

Tired of being talked about and discussed by all the people who know about Ava’s story, she just wants comfort with someone who won’t judge her or feel sorry for her. Hailey seems to be that person, and Ava slowly finds herself falling for Hailey. When the two of them start spending more and more time together, and Hailey falls for Ava, too, things seem like they’re all going great.

But then there’s that tiny little matter of the body that Ava found in the woods.

“Every time I leave my cage, something terrible happens. Sometimes it’s the worst thing; sometimes it’s just a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a body in the woods.”

One night, Ava stumbles in the snow walking home and comes across a body – a girl, just about her age, naked and stuffed into a fallen tree and covered with snow. Ava, shocked and not sure how to handle the situation, stares, especially at the gruesome wounds that this girl has on her body. Ava, who knows what it is like to be poked and prodded and examined after a rape, decides to cover her back up with snow and keep her safe until she can figure out what to do. She doesn’t want this girl, this Jane, as she names her, to be taken apart and dissected like a science project until she can figure out exactly what she can do to prevent that from happening.

And then she starts seeing Jane – everywhere. At home. When she’s out. And she keeps up with checking on Jane to make sure she’s still there, that she is still safe.

“It’s almost like our natural state is death. Life is a deviation, the briefest of intermissions, before we return to the dark.”

When she comes upon a strange boy standing at the place where Jane’s body is covered with snow, she gets concerned; especially when he starts taking pictures. She chases this boy, and when he gets away, Ava gets his cell phone, which once she manages to get unlocked with Hailey’s help, she discovers evidence of who this girl was – and a little bit of what may have happened. Did Ava come across Jane’s killer?

“From the moment I found her body in the woods, anxiety and trauma and fear and stress have turned my brain into a midnight carnival. The music is bloated with a minor key, and everything shifts like in a fun house mirror.”

Ava, still dealing with all of this on her own, is tumbling down a rabbit hole of information, and she eventually finds help in the most unlikely person. While she cannot turn to Syd because of their crumbling friendship, Hailey because of their budding relationship, and her mother just because of what she is dealing with, she pushes on, determined to bring Jane’s murderer to justice and figure out exactly what happened to her.

Okay, even though I didn’t think I was going to like this book much, I have to say: I freaking loved it. I loved Ava’s character. I loved her relationship with Hailey. I loved her complex nature and how her backstory changed her into who she is currently. Everything was so detailed. Everything was so…so…unexpected. It was different.

We often read books that deal with rough topics, such as rape, but it’s not always that we get an in-depth look into the character and how it changes them so much. Ava is such a deep, emotional character, shaped by her personal tragedy. The author’s note in the back of the book is an important addition, so be sure to check it out – it really allows you to understand how the character of Ava was created. It’s a personal note that really makes this book that much more emotional.

The relationship she has with her best friend Syd is complicated and it makes it seem so real, and the relationship that develops between Ava and Hailey is just beautiful. I loved it so much – in fact, it was probably one of my all time favorite book relationships!

This was such a fast paced book – I couldn’t put it down from the moment I started reading it until the ending, and when  I reached the end, I kind of wished there was more. I was bummed that it was over because I loved it so much.

Definitely give this one a go if you like thrillers, mysteries, or even a beautiful relationship story about a girl who is learning to heal. The plot and characters are both complex and offer quite a bit to the reader, and the way that it is written will envelop you and keep you pining for more with every chapter you read.

4.5 stars
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