A Book That Made Me Feel
4.5 out of 5 stars
The first thing that I noticed was that this book had to have been written when I was in or at least near high school. The lack of cell phones (they had them but they weren’t really a “thing”. Calling someone’s house to talk to them was also prevalent in this book and is not something someone would do now (if they even had a house phone). Finally, the “vibe” of people. This was before gay marriage was legal, so they talk a little about that. That’s not to say what Peters wrote is wrong and that LGBTQ+ youth don’t face the same bullying but some of the internal strife wouldn’t have been as prevalent. (After writing this and looking it up – the book was originally publishing in 2003).
Keeping You A Secret covers a slew of interesting topics under the guise of a lesbian romance novel. It covers self-realization, pride, the price that is paid for being proud, family drama (especially parental misunderstanding and freak outs), personal safety and so much more. Peters does a good job of hitting all of the important notes without going too deep or skimming too much. She’s able to write a story that was enjoyable to read but also showed the right amount of drama and stress associated with youth from that era.
The bullying, feelings, and overall vibe of this book was reminiscent of my high school years. Thankfully I wasn’t one to take part in any of it and the group of friends I surrounded myself with were amazing (many of them gay or lesbian themselves). But you could definitely hear the whispers and feel the looks that were mentioned in this book.
Overall, a really interesting coming-of-age story about a girl figuring out who she is. A story that covers so much more than the internal strife that someone causes themselves – but also goes into the strife that others like to cause for them. A book that made me feel.
First time I saw her was in the mirror on my locker door. I’d kicked my swim gear onto the bottom shelf and was reaching to the top for my calc book when she opened her locker across the hall. She had a streaked blonde ponytail dangling out the back of her baseball cap…. We slammed our lockers in unison and turned. Her eyes met mine. “Hi,” she said, smiling. My stomach fluttered. “Hi,” I answered automatically. She was new. Had to be. I would’ve noticed her. She sauntered away, but not before I caught a glimpse of her T-shirt. It said: IMRU? Am I what?
Author Julie Anne Peters is best known for writing young adult books about gender queer youth, and Keeping You a Secret is penned in the same vein. In this audiobook, popular Holland Jaeger’s life (and sexuality) is thrown into question by the arrival of a new girl in the corridors of her high school.
Rebekah Levin performs this coming-out story in the authentic voice of a conflicted teenager. She is able to capture the exaggerated theatricality of high school students, as well as the shrill, authoritarian tones of teachers and parents. The overt drama of the performance complements the action-packed storyline in a way that deepens the listener’s understanding of the obstacles facing queer youth.
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