Book Reviews

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre Contemporary / Young Adult / Lesbian Romance
Reviewed by Rachel on 23-July-2013

Book Blurb

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.


Book Review

National Book Award Finalist Julie Anne Peters has written 'Keeping You a Secret', a very real novel about a teen girl’s newfound lesbian feelings, as well as her “forbidden” love for another classmate.

High school senior Holland Jaeger, student-council president and member of the swim team at Southglenn, is in her final semester, preparing for college. She has a boyfriend, good friends and a loving relationship with her mother. She feels ruled by other people’s expectations of her and is confused about what she wants to be in the future, until she meets junior transfer Cece Goddard, an out-and-proud lesbian looking to start a gay club at Southglenn. At first, the girls are merely friends, until Holland begins to realize that she too is a lesbian. As their relationship goes deeper, Holland and Cece must make some tough decisions about Holland coming out to her family and friends, and the consequences of keeping their relationship a secret.

This book is told in Holland’s blunt voice, making her situation much more real. Young lesbians struggling with their identity will find their feelings mirrored in Holland. Another great thing 'Keeping You a Secret' touches on is how other people’s expectations can shape another person’s life. In the story, Holland faces a lot of people who want her to be a certain way. Most notably is her mother, who is bound and determined to send Holland to a prestigious college and pursue pre-law. She at first seems reasonable and open, as she accepts the sexual relationship between Holland and her boyfriend, Seth. But as the novel progresses, she is revealed to be more narrow-minded and homophobic when she disapproves of Holland’s friendship with openly gay Cece. This is precedent for one of Holland’s most difficult times in her life.

The homophobia encountered in Holland’s school is very real too. Throughout the novel, Holland and Cece run into harassment, such as vandalism, and are the butt of some crude jokes and name-calling. Some of Holland’s friends turn out to be not such good friends after all, leading to much self-doubt and insecurity for her.

The relationship between Holland and Cece is tender, with its flaws like everyone else. The two both struggle for their families’ acceptance and their unconditional love for each other. Cece is a very funny, likeable character who is well fleshed out with her own past and problems, leading to her transfer. The other characters: Seth, Holland’s mother, the Goddard family, all have their own personality and quirks that make them real.

'Keeping You a Secret' is a well-written teen novel that even adults will find realistic. The feelings, Holland’s fears and hopes, are what any teen girl, gay or straight, can relate to.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format paperback and hardcover
Length Novel, 272 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 04-May-2004
Price $7.19 paperback, $13.65 nardcover
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