“Tell Me What Really Happened” by Chelsea Sedoti (ARC Review)

Sedoti, Chelsea. Tell Me What Really Happened. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Fire, 2023. 

ISBN-13: 978-1492673057 | $19.99 USD | 416 pages | YA Mystery/Thriller


There are stories about the woods around Salvation Creek and the people who have gone missing. Now their friend is one of them. A riveting, fast-paced YA mystery told entirely through first person police interviews of four teens over the course of a few hours.

It was all her idea. They would get away from their parents and spend the weekend camping. Down by Salvation Creek, the five of them would make smores, steal kisses, share secrets.

But sometime around midnight, she vanished.

Now the four friends who came back are under suspicion—and they each have a very different story to tell about what happened in the woods.

The clock is ticking. What are they hiding? Who is lying? Dark truths must come to light if their friend is to be found…

Told entirely through first-person police interviews, this riveting mystery asks: what really happened that night?


3.5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 

Tell Me What Really Happened takes a unique approach as a thriller, focusing on police interrogation of key witnesses and/or suspects involved in the recent tragic death of a teenage girl named Maylee. The transcript style makes for a snappy, fast-paced read, along with the choice to have the characters’ dialogue in response to each of the interrogator’s questions take up a chapter each. While not perfectly replicating a transcript of these proceedings, with the characters being very verbose, and their dialogue being immersive in its flashbacks to their ill-fated camping trip, that just makes it a much more engaging read. 

I really enjoyed getting a sense of the dynamics between the characters straight from their mouths. They are unreliable narrators, presented in a believable and engaging way. And in the wake of such a tragedy, I enjoyed unraveling all the tangled web that existed between these characters and their somewhat contradictory stories, even if none of them are particularly endearing. 

The narrative does a great job of presenting each of the members of the group with varying amounts of potential culpability, while also providing contradictory evidence to suggest that’s not the entire story. And while the resolution felt a bit abrupt and anticlimactic, I appreciate that the goal wasn’t to cast things into black-and-white terms for the most part, at least where each of the survivors is concerned. 

This is an engaging read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA thrillers. 

Author Bio

Chelsea Sedoti is the author of the young adult novels The Hundred Lies of Lizzie LovettAs You Wish, and It Came from the SkyShe fell in love with writing at a young age after discovering that making up stories was more fun than doing her school work (her teachers didn’t always appreciate this.) In an effort to avoid getting a “real” job, Chelsea explored careers as a balloon twister, filmmaker, and paranormal investigator. Eventually she realized that her true passion is writing about flawed teenagers who are also afraid of growing up. When she’s not at the computer, Chelsea spends her time exploring abandoned buildings, eating junk food at roadside diners, and trying to befriend every animal in the world. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she avoids casinos, but loves roaming the Mojave Desert.


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