Keeping you a secret – Julie Ann Peters
Judging by the cover, a blurb hardly seems necessary….
I seem to spend my life searching for LGBT fiction where the characters are more than their sexuality. I know it’s somewhat revelatory, but a person’s orientation is not the only thing they have going on in their lives. There are some really wonderful books in this genre, like Annie on my mind and the Miseducation of Cameron Post.
And then there are books like this, that feature a gay character that has nothing other than their gayness to talk about.
In my quest for a satisfying LGBT novel, I ended up writing one of my own that you can find here. Please let me know if I fall into the trap that this book does by not having my characters express any other personality traits.
Anyway, let’s get on with reviewing this shall we?
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? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of young love
It’s said to be the modern day counterpart of Annie on my Mind and I love that book so much that I thought maybe this would fill the Annie shaped void in my soul since I finished it. Unfortunately, this did not fill that void. Keeping You a Secret could have been soooooo good, but it just wasn’t. I really didn’t get on with the narration at all. Holland was a really interesting character who was literally drowning, her mother was living vicariously through her, forcing her to apply for colleges she doesn’t want to go to, she’s taking many more classes than she can cope with and is sharing a room with a step sister she barely knows. On top of all that, she’s drifting away from her friends and realising that some of them aren’t exactly nice people and she’s dating a guy that she doesn’t have romantic feelings for. This guy by the way, expects sex every single time he goes to visit Holland, so you know, not the best of boyfriends.
Anyway, as well as all of this going on, Holland also has to deal with the fact that she has started having some very intense and confusing feelings about the new girl.
With all that going on, we could have had a very involved, very intense story about Holland dealing with all these things. The narration should have been oppressive and stifling, instead, I just got the idea that Holland was a bit bored. It didn’t really match up to how she should have been feeling.
Cece was by far the most annoying character I have ever come across. I do not have a problem with anyone being out and proud, this is a good thing, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be ashamed of who they are, but there is being out and proud and then there is rubbing your sexuality in everyone’s faces, which is exactly what Cece does. It would appear that she wears nothing but t shirts declaring that she’s a lesbian, which is fine, but seriously? She doesn’t own a single other item of clothing? I wanted Cece to be a well rounded character like Holland, or you know, like an actual person rather than just a foil for Holland to reveal herself.
The story itself was one that I feel is important, kids do need to feel safe and comfortable and able to come out, they need to know that there is support available to them and for those that don’t have to come out, they should have this sort of story as a resource so that they know how it feels and can adjust their behaviour accordingly. But, you know, having said that, Annie on my Mind was a superior story and Keeping You a Secret wasn’t in anyway groundbreaking.
Once again, I dove into a book that I thought would finally leave me satisfied and would give the LGBT community justice in the fiction genre and I’ve been left disappointed.
That isn’t to say that this is a bad book, I just don’t think it was necessarily the book for me. It did have a character called Leah in it, I kind of have this thing about books where there are characters that share my name, I read the entire Twilight franchise just so that I could get to the bits about Leah (who was an awesome character by the way). This book featured a character called Leah, who like myself and my Twilight counterpart, was one of the best characters in this book. Oh yeeeeeeah.