allis reviews Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Keeping you a secret

By Julie Anne Peters

In Keeping you a secret a last year high school student, Holland, who always had everything planned for her, is suddenly awakening to her own life and start seeing everything falling apart as she falls in love with Cece and has to make a choice between following expectations or going her own way.

The novel start with a classic introduction of characters and straight away you know what will happen in the story between the main characters, but what is interesting is the process of getting there and seeing how things will unfold.

The narration is good and fun to read as we see the world through Holland’s eyes and she is an interesting and funny person, which made the reading easy and light. However being pretty sure of what would happen in the novel from the introduction I wasn’t expecting it to surprise me. I was not waiting for anything but Holland finding out about her sexuality and breaking out of the expectations everyone has for her. I was proved wrong when the idea of a gay club came in the story. Suddenly the atmosphere of Holland’s world changed and you could feel the animosity of the school towards homosexuality. The novel became more interesting, not being just about Holland but also about this animosity that came to be when confronted with reality. I was quite curious to see this subject being developed but sadly it was rapidly put in the background to focus back on Holland. I would have loved to read more about the high school atmosphere and how it affected the characters but the story is told from Holland point of view and at this stage of the book she was growing more and more confused about her feelings for Cece and she was pretty much aware of only that aspect of her life, the rest disappearing in the background of her mind.

The topic though wasn’t really dropped as we quickly got back to it on a larger scale, including Holland’s and Cece’s families and their reactions to their daughters being lesbians. I thought it was quite a good portrayal of reality, especially Cece’s family. I loved how her mom tried to come to terms with her daughter(s) being lesbians, not understanding it but accepting it because she has no choice and loves her daughters. On the opposite hand Holland’s mom is everything but accepting and throw her daughter out of her home, and sadly no hope is given towards a reconciliation between the both of them. And that’s when the gay community really come into the picture. I really enjoyed those brief moments in which Holland found support and a new home. But as for the animosity of the high school, the topic is not really developed but more hinted at, this is after all not the main story of the novel.

All in all it was a very good novel and I really enjoyed reading about all the problems that came to be in Holland’s life when she found out she was a lesbian and when she came out. I thought the difficulties and confusion were well portrayed as well as the hope offered by the gay community, giving a safe place to be for Holland.

Another thing I really appreciated in the novel is the character of Faith, Holland‘s sister-in-law. At first Holland judged her only by her appearance and decided at first glance that she was not going to like her because she is a Goth. I loved how their relationship evolved though the novel. As Holland was breaking free of expectations and discovering a much wider world than she ever imagined, she became more accepting of her sister and who she is, going past looks and appearances. Because this is not just a coming of age novel about finding oneself and discovering one sexuality and place in the world. This is also about acceptance and prejudices, about not judging people for their looks, sexuality or other little things that shouldn’t matter, but seeing people for who they really are and not thinking them « freaks » because they are not what society expect them to be.

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