Review: Julie Anne Peters – Keeping You a Secret

Keeping You a Secret
Julie Anne Peters
Holland is a typical senior – great grades, college aspirations and a steady partner. Everything changes one morning though when a new person at school who has transferred gets a nearb locker. Suddenly Holland’s life is changing, everything is falling apart.
7006711I’ve attempted to keep this review gender neutral, because some of the beginning of the book is based on suspense. I think I’ve failed, but for me, when I first started reading I didn’t know if Holland was male or female – I didn’t even know it was queer fiction! I suppose the cover should have given it away to me, but I can’t say I pay that much attention most of the time.
Holland is a good character. You feel along with Holland, you worry about Holland, you don’t know what is going to happen next! At the same time, Cece seems a little typical, in that she doesn’t want to share Holland with anyone else. It is remarkable the level of maturity shown by these two main characters – but perhaps getting a driver’s licence at 16 does that to US teens.
Something that irritated me about this book and also Scars, is that the two protagonists have a gift at drawing, and so are able to express themselves in that way. For someone like me, who has never been creative in that way it is difficult to connect with them in quite the same way.
One of the problems I have with this novel it the used of ‘she sneered’. Maybe it’s a big thing in the US, but every time I read it, I felt myself getting annoyed! And perhaps because I was unfamiliar with it I noticed it every time, and felt it was over-used.
One of the key things from this novel is that coming out is your own choice. It should happen when you feel ready, even if other people don’t feel that way. I can understand Cece’s misgivings about coming out in a homophobic environment, but sometimes you just have to do it, particularly if you are in love and young.
This has to be one of my most favourite YA queer books of all time. I love it. I can’t emphasise the way this book changed my life enough. Every time I read it, I pick up something new. This was the first book by Peters that I read, and it paved the way for the rest of the YA queer fiction I have read.
This is almost certainly teenage fiction only, sadly enough. I feel that most parents would not be comfortable with children reading this book, although I feel that perhaps I would have been ready to read this book at age 11. I think it’s likely that girls will be more excited to read this book. It’s an essential for people who have questions about their sexuality, or want to understand a queer person better. This book has a set of discussion questions in the back, so you can provoke quite a lively talk if required! Peters has a number of books for younger readers that I believe also comment on important things about life, if you love Peters as much as I do, but want to share it with someone younger.

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