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Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

October 3, 2010

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters
Published by Little, Brown Young Readers, May 7, 2003

Holland is an exceptionally bright, popular, conscientious high school senior. She has a kind, attractive boyfriend, Seth, and she’s headed toward an Ivy League college. However, having spent her life on the academic treadmill, and dating the “right” boy, she has never discovered her own passions. Holland’s mom, whose education was cut short by a premature pregnancy, is living vicariously through her, eager to see her accepted to a competitive college and enrolled in a pre-law program. Holland has no idea where her mother’s aspirations for her end and her own dreams begin.

When she meets her “out and proud” lesbian classmate Cece, Holland’s confusion increases a thousand-fold. Gradually, she realizes she has only ever loved Seth as a friend and she’s fallen deeply in love with Cece.

This is basically a story about falling in love for the first time. It draws you into the joy, passion, and turmoil that this brings, as well as the terrifying vulnerability of becoming emotionally dependent on someone. It’s also a story about the difficulty of “coming out” as a homosexual teen, including the rejection and harassment they often experience.

I expected this to be an enjoyable read, and it was. But I was surprised at how deeply this book affected me. I was hit hardest by Holland’s relationship with her mom. I don’t want to spoil the story, but as their relationship unfolded, particularly near the end of the book, there were many things that — being a mom myself — hurt and infuriated me. I actually cried.

This is a book readers of YA literature, particularly teens, will enjoy. While the story is particularly personal to gay and lesbian teens, I think everyone can relate to the pressure, confusion, and alienation Holland faces. And the experience of falling in love is familiar to all of us, regardless of the mix of genders involved. I also like what Amanda at Zen Leaf said: “honestly I think every parent should read it. They should read it and think about the way they’ll react if their child comes out as gay.” I couldn’t agree more.

This is only my second novel my Julie Anne Peters; I read Luna several years ago with my older daughter. I liked both these novels equally well, and I am looking forward to reading more of Peters’ novels.

Read More Reviews: The Zen Leaf; yaReads.com; Open Mind, Insert Book

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2010 8:42 pm

    That’s exactly the part that affected me and that I tried to mention-without-mentioning in my email the other day. It was definitely a very painful but beautiful book.

    I honestly haven’t read Luna yet because I know it’s going to kill me reading it. I read the first couple chapters and I could already tell it was going to rip my heart out, so I haven’t yet gotten the courage to read it.

    • October 3, 2010 9:10 pm

      Amanda, I kept telling myself the way the family situation was depicted was unrealistic, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that wasn’t true. It was heartbreaking. Luna is hard to read for similar reasons, but it’s a terrific book. Sarah and I had one of the best literature discussions of our homeschooling career about that book.

  2. October 3, 2010 8:54 pm

    Your review and Amanda’s comment make me so curious as to what happened! It definitely sounds like a book I’ll be looking for at my library!

  3. October 3, 2010 9:29 pm

    I’m really looking forward to reading Luna, and I’ll have to add this to my wish list!

  4. October 3, 2010 9:39 pm

    I LOVE this book. I am a complete Julie Anne Peters fanboy. I have so much love for her, the word she spreads with her books. She’s a brilliant writer, unbelievably inspirational. I read her books at exactly the right time.

    • October 3, 2010 10:19 pm

      Thanks for the great comment, Robby! I’m glad you discovered these books at the right time in your life.

  5. givingreadingachance permalink
    October 3, 2010 11:52 pm

    Wow, this is such a powerful book. Great review. I hope I can get my hands on this one.

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