Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review: Keeping You a Secret

Is it worth falling in love if you have to keep it a secret.

With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship?

Being gay doesn't have to be a secret anymore. Recent news reports show that many more people are identifying themselves as gay or lesbian during their teenage years, and the number of high schools with clubs such as gay-straight alliances has grown dramatically. But there are still very few young adult novels that celebrate the love between teens of the same sex. In her trademark, darkly humorous voice, Julie Anne Peters has written a moving, compelling, and witty love story between two girls. Keeping You a Secret is a contemporary, worthy successor to such classic YA coming out novels as Annie on My Mind and I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip, as well a companion to recent popular gay teen novels, including Rainbow Boys and Empress of the World.

Keeping You a Secret is the second book I've read by Julie Anne Peters. Luna was the first. In fact, Luna was so amazing that I went out and bought several of Julie's other books. I loved both books, and I'm actually not sure which book I loved more.

Holland narrates Keeping You a Secret. She's a high school senior, school president, and someone everyone at school loves. She's one of those girls who has all her shit together. Or so we originally think. She lives with her mother, step-father, and baby sister. Her goth step-sister shares her room every other weekend. Despite all that, her life is really good. Then she meets new girl, Cece, who has a locker right across the hall. And suddenly, she's not so sure of things.

Cece is a lesbian, and she's been out of the closet for a while. From day one she wears t-shirts that lets everyone know who she is. She wants to start a club for LGBT teens, and when Holland brings it to the student council (filled with her friends), she realizes the homophobia runs deep in her school. With Holland's crush on Cece growing, and the confusion of feeling like she may be a lesbian, she feels like her life is falling apart. Her mother is judgmental, and her boyfriend is such a sweet guy that she doesn't want to hurt him. Holland just doesn't know what to do

Julie Anne Peters really captures that feeling of losing everything you've ever known. I had a similar experience when I was finishing high school and moving off to college. Growing up, I always knew what I wanted to do with my life. And then I get there and it's decision time and suddenly I'm not so sure. I think regardless of gender and sexual orientation it's a confusing time in every teen's life, and I don't think just LGBT teens will relate to Holland.

I proudly put Keeping You a Secret on my list of favorite books and my list of books that I think everyone should read. Not only will this book give LGBT teens someone to relate to, but I think (like Luna) it will open minds and teach tolerance. Trust me; you want to read this book.


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