Rating: 3 stars
It’s not easy being me.
But my twin sister has no choice.
When I died two months ago, my killer told my twin sister to become me – or else. Now Emma has it down to a T. She tosses her hair with the signature Sutton Mercer flip and can lead a Lying Game prank with the best of them. She’s even repairing my relationship with my adoptive family. The only thing she hasn’t done is solve my murder.
Then our birth mother, the woman who abandoned us, showed up in Tucson. Emma hasn’t seen Becky in twelve years, but Becky recognizes Emma immediately – as Emma. Is it mother’s intuition… or does Becky know I’m already gone?
Out of all of the books in the series so far, I’d have to say this one is my least favorite. Now, it’s not a bad read or anything. I just wasn’t able to immerse myself into it like I could the rest of the books in the series. But before I talk about why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the rest of the series, I’d like to mention what I did enjoy with Cross My Heart, Hope to Die.
One of the aspects of this series I continue to enjoy is how Shepard develops her characters. In this book in particular, Emma has become close to Sutton’s family. She’s repaired Sutton’s relationship with Laurel to the point where they aren’t arguing anymore. The Mercer family is finally acting like a normal happy family, somewhat. Yes, there are some secrets and lies being told. But they are doing a whole lot better than before. I think the family’s development is important in this book in particular because this book is heavily focused on their family, which is something I do like. When Becky comes to town, you know there’s going to be some trouble. You as the reader just don’t realize how much.
Along with her character development with regards to Sutton’s family, her friendships also continue to grow and be tested. When Emma allows her twin’s rival to help with a prank, she befriends another person her sister wouldn’t have thought of giving a chance. You’re also introduced to a new girl to the school named Celeste whose character is pretty strange in some ways. She supposedly is very in tune spiritually and warns Emma several times throughout that she’s in serious danger. I really like her character because despite her odd personality, I honestly believe she cares about people even those she’s not friends with. I have a feeling Celeste is going to play a significant role in the final book, though I don’t yet know how that’s going to take shape.
One of my favorite parts of this book is how it ends. Emma is having a really happy moment with her family when she receives some really bad news, the type of news nobody wants to get. Then the story ends with you wondering how Emma and her family are going to react and how this all plays into what’s going to happen next in the story. I love it because you’re reminded that Sutton’s killer is still out there watching Emma’s every move and that the killer is far from being done with her.
What I don’t like with Cross My Heart, Hope to Die is that I feel like the plot is really slowing down. Out of all the books in this series, the pace in this book moved too slow for me. It was like Shepard put brakes on this book so that the story wouldn’t move too far along. I didn’t like it because it made me not want to finish this book, even though I really want to know how this all will end.
But even though the pace was slow, it’s not my least favorite thing in this book. I absolutely hated how mental illness was portrayed through Becky in this book. It’s pretty obvious that she has mental health issues with the way Emma was raised by Becky before she abandoned her. But I feel like the way Becky’s illness is portrayed is really terrible. What made it so awful to me is that she’s never given the help she really needs. In the book, she escapes from the hospital only to find Emma so she can tell her she’s leaving Tucson. She apparently also finds Mr. Mercer to tell him the same thing, yet they are both completely okay with her leaving them despite that she really needs help. Yes, Emma does show more concern for her well-being, but it’s very obvious that neither of them are trying to get her any help. I get with Mr. Mercer that he doesn’t want his wife to know Becky is back, but to me it just seems like he doesn’t care about his daughter’s well-being. He knows she’s very sick, but does very little to really give her the help she needs.
I also find the portrayal of mental health in this book to be awful because Emma does suspect her mother of killing Sutton at one point. This brings up the stigma that only really sick people with mental health issues are the only ones capable of killing someone, though there’s no way her mother was capable of the crime Emma was suspicious of her committing. And it also uses mental health as an excuse for why people do terrible things, which makes it even harder for people with mental health issues to actually want to get help. This is pretty apparent when Emma finds out Ethan has a file at the hospital and wonders why he kept it secret from her. While I appreciate Shepard writing about mental health, I don’t necessarily think she portrayed it properly. Or in a way where the reader could really sympathize with Becky and understand what she’s going through.
But despite these problems with Cross My Heart, Hope to Die, I’m still planning on reading the last book in the series. Since the next book in this series is the last one, I’m planning on talking about the series as a whole and give you my thoughts on who I thought could’ve killed Sutton and why. I have a couple people I suspected and really can’t wait to share with you my thoughts on this series as a whole.