Seven Minutes in Heaven (TLG #6) by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★★
I understood then. We were a constellation. We would always be together.
I was so not ready for the finale of The Lying Game but here we are. Fresh on the heels of Nisha’s untimely death, Seven Minutes in Heaven opens with Emma as she struggles through the passing of her friend and can’t help but to wonder what the girl wanted to tell her in her final hours. It sounded so urgent and as if someone wanted to shut her up, for good. Could she have somehow figured out that Sutton’s dead?
Did she discover who killed her sister?
Or who she really is?
The Mercers and Sutton’s friends now have the knowledge, as well, of the existence of a twin sister. Sutton’s parents are more determined than ever to track the mysterious girl down to complete their family–little do they know she has been living with them the whole time and their daughter was dead.
Just as Emma begins to grow more and more devastated and concerned, with only Ethan to confide in; her suspect list seems to be growing shorter. Who killed Sutton Mercer? Emma fears the only logical suspect could be Sutton’s ex-boyfriend and his temper.
Did he kill Sutton in a fit of rage?
Unfortunately, time runs out with the discovery of a teenage girls body which is originally identified as Emma’s and suspicions arise from Thayer–he knows deep inside himself that something isn’t right; that Sutton isn’t Sutton.
Before she knows it, Emma’s secret is revealed. And everyone turns on her. Police are zooming in on her as the number one suspect in Sutton’s death, the Mercer’s are rightfully devastated and trow her out on her ass.
Emma is without the people she grew to call her family and friends, and although she knew it would come to this it is still a massive blow to her. Ethan, however, never leaves her side and attempts to solve the murder with her.
But can she solve it on time? Emma is certain that her fate has been sealed with the appearance of her scumbag foster brother, the lingering effects of Nisha’s death and the possible arrest of her best friend from back home.
Without her family and friends, Emma stays with Ethan and she finds herself once more grateful to have him in her life. But is it all that it seems? Seeing as this is a Sara Shepard novel, it’s obvious that it isn’t all it seems–and Emma is about to discover the horrible truth.
After what feels like a wild goose chase, Emma searches and searches for something to implicate Sutton’s ex boyfriend. Her heart races with fear and she is positive that at last she is close to bringing justice to Sutton and now Nisha. Emma Paxton is labeled as a murderer but she is more determined than ever to expose the truth; even at the cost of her own life or freedom.
On a hunch, she and Ethan break into Nisha’s house to look for clues–did Nisha find out the truth about Garrett and pay the price?
Or was it someone else entirely?
Short answer: it was someone else. The thing about Sara and her reveals are they blindside you in away that makes you go: “well how didn’t I notice that?” because she lays out hints all throughout the story. Some people have an easier time with these; noticing right away, while others it takes a while to sink in what’s really unfolding.
Emma discovers a note from Nisha, tucked away in a hiding spot in the girls room, which is attached to Ethan Landry’s file from the hospital. Nisha had her suspicions about Ethan’s backstory and stole his file only to discover that Ethan is far worse than we could ever imagine.
His sob story from the previous reveal is nothing more than a lie; everything he’s ever told Emma was a lie. In his childhood, Ethan killed a girl–he supposed best friend. He convinced everyone it was an accident but couldn’t resist bragging about it to his therapist after they could no longer hold it against him.
It was, all along, Ethan who was sending Emma threatening notes. It was Ethan who ran over Thayer, who killed Sutton and Nisha. Ethan, the boy Emma fell in love with, never fully existed–he claims to have fallen in love with her along the way but how can anyone ever believe such a thing?
As it turns out, Ethan was at first in love with Sutton. He attempted to gain her love and trust by searching for her birth mother; instead he finds disappointing news and then Sutton’s twin. He believed that by finding Emma and bringing her to Sutton, Sutton would see they were meant to be together.
Only it didn’t work–and Sutton was frightened by his actions and desires. He had been stalking both girls and in Sutton’s rejection, he kills her without much hesitation. Thus, forming the plan to convince Emma to come out for a visit and forcing her to take the other girls place.
After discovering this, she calls Laurel in a last ditch effort to get backup and some help; everyone else has abandoned her and all she has is hope that by telling Laurel what she found, the girl will report it or believe her.
But is it too late?
In a heated confrontation, Emma tries everything to escape Ethan and to turn him in. She is heartbroken but admirably strong as he brings her to the place where Sutton lost her life. We see the flashes of Sutton’s final moments and watch as Ethan explains all that happened.
Emma struggles deeply, emotionally, with the revelation and it’s painful to watch because I’m very attached to Emma. I’m very upset that my suspicions of Ethan were correct. Ethan plans to kill her; this much is obvious as he cannot risk getting caught.
After a failed attempt to gain his trust and stroke his ego by complimenting his efforts, Emma is nearly a goner. Knife against her throat, danger like she never knew–just as her sister before her, it seems that she is destined to die here. Sutton loans some of Emma her strength, but it seems pretty unlikely that she’ll survive at this point–after all this, it looks like Ethan could get away with murder.
Laurel and Thayer arrive in the nick of time. It turns out that Emma wasn’t fully abandoned by the two who were closest to Sutton; Laurel took her call seriously and phoned in a report. But when they arrived at Nisha’s house to rescue Emma, both Emma and Ethan were gone–so they followed a trail and showed up at just the right moment.
Later, in the police station, it is revealed that they had been suspicious of Ethan for a while, too. Although, they assumed that he was somehow roped in or an accomplice to Emma’s crimes. After rehashing what happened, Thayer, Laurel and Emma support one another and show undying strength.
And then the Mercers are reunited with their daughter… and Emma. It’s all very bittersweet and realistic. I’m very glad that with Ethan in custody, Emma’s name was cleared and she was fortunate enough to be given a chance to live with the Mercers. She deserves to have a family and they are the only ones who could give this to her.
Although each of them are devastated, it serves as a starting point for all of them and it’s just… beautiful. It’s not going to be easy for any of them, but at least they have each other.
My favorite part of the novel, after the scene in which it’s revealed that Ethan is the killer, would have to be Sutton’s funeral and then the final chapter. It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to Sutton, but I definitely loved the way the girls say goodbye.
Toniiiiiiiiiiiiighhhttt, we are young!
I’m very glad that Sutton’s friends seem to want to know Emma as herself; Charlotte coming up and leading the pack of girls to Emma was a very sweet and emotional moment. I liked seeing that the connection will be there and that Emma will have a friend in each of them–especially Laurel, Char, Mads and Thayer. I liked seeing Emma’s best friend from home being included in the conversation and knowing that Emma is far from alone.
I think that the way it ends is beautiful. Between the funeral scene and the last chapter, saying hello to the future and goodbye to Sutton. I think Sara Shepard captured the emotion behind it all so incredibly well and I shed a few tears. I love the gift that Sutton’s grandmother gives Emma and I love that together, they are like a constellation.
I’m going to miss these guys so, so much.
Overall, it was a satisfying ending that will leave fans in a pool of their emotions and with the answers they’ve been searching for from the start. It was the perfect finale and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My heart is still beating like mad.
Goodbye, Sutton Mercer.