Review: Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

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?

Keeping You a Secret had a very early-1990s feel to me, so I was surprised to see that it was published in 2003. The fact that Holland had a cell phone should have been a hint that it was more contemporary, but I still felt like it belonged back in the days when Sweet Valley High and the Lurlene McDaniel death books dominated the YA shelves at Waldenbooks. Frankly, I expect better from books written more recently, even if it did come out more than ten years ago. The whole book just lacked depth.

I didn’t really buy into Holland’s interest in Cece. I never understood what she saw in her, or what Cece saw in Holland either. There was anything particularly interesting about either of them, except for Cece’s performance art and that was barely mentioned. Their relationship started out as insta-love on Holland’s part, but since Holland thought she was straight at the time and she had a boyfriend, it took a while before anything happened between them. Once they were together, I liked them more.

The most interesting parts of the book to me had very little to do with Cece at all. Some YA books have a very small cast of charcters, but Holland had a family, two best friends, a boyfriend, and she even interacted with boy in her art class. All of those relationships were compelling, particularly in light of the fact that she was keeping a huge secret, but I was most interested in her stepsister Faith. Holland and Faith were very different girls who shared a room on the weekends Faith stayed with her father (Holland’s stepfather). They didn’t get along, although that was more told than shown. There were even moments when they had similar reactions to Holland’s mother’s comments and actions. To make things even more interesting, Faith knew Cece, although that wasn’t touched on much either.

The ending of Keeping You a Secret, after Holland came out, felt rushed and forced. It was probably very realistic for some gay teens, but things seemed to fall into place a little too easily for Holland. Her life wasn’t easy, but Cece knew exactly where to go for the resources Holland needed. What would have happened if she didn’t? That would have been a more interesting story.

3 stars



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