Reviews for Keeping You a Secret : A Novel


Booklist Reviews 2003 June #1
Reviewed with Tea Benduhn's Gravel Queen.Gr. 9-12. In these novels about first love, a high-school girl falls hard for another girl and faces the complicated pain of coming out to family, friends, and to one's self. In Gravel Queen, the author's debut novel, Aurin explores her first gay relationship, and finds that her best friend, a glamorous, possessive drama queen, is jealous. Benduhn focus on Aurin's self-discovery and friendships, closing the novel before Aurin tells her family what's going on. In Keeping You a Secret, model high-school senior Holland, who has a boyfriend, develops an overwhelming crush on Cece. The girls fall passionately in love and a tragic coming-out story ensues. Holland finds herself homeless and alone, except for Cece and a new gay support system.Both novels, written in first-person, are filled with believable inner monologues and finely tuned contemporary dialogue. Benduhn includes some interesting cinematic references related to Aurin's filmmaking aspirations, but some of her descriptions are over-the-top. Peters' story and characters are more developed. Both books are romantic and layered, and many teens, particularly those with fluid sexual identities, will recognize the questions: Do you have to kiss someone to be gay? What do fantasies mean? ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Fall
Holland is already taxed, especially by her overbearing mother, when she finds herself attracted to a girl for the first time. The novel's wooing period is too drawn out, and the out-and-proud Cece's motivation for concealing her relationship with Holland is unconvincing. Peters's characters are well drawn, however; their humor rings true, and the portrait of parental homophobia and Holland's ensuing homelessness seem heartbreakingly realistic. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2003 April #2
Holland's life is directed by those around her, her Mom, boyfriend, even her school's career counselor. Discovering she's attracted to the new, out-and-proud lesbian is not on anyone's agenda, however. Not that all has been smooth for this student-body president, busy with job, swim team, and school. Sex with boyfriend Seth is a take-it-or-leave-it deal, but when Cece's presence begins to cause an emotional reaction, Holland is stunned. Gradually the two girls become a couple; Cece pleads for secrecy and Holland acquiesces. The reason for the secrecy is slightly unconvincing, but Peters keeps the action flowing as Mom throws Holland out when she discovers what she's up to, and Holland discovers more resources in herself than she ever imagined. Holland's experiences will inform readers who are also discovering their sexual identity. Gay or straight, they'll identify with the excitement that accompanies that first love affair. At the heart is the realization that secrecy can damage many relationships, no matter the connection. Revealing. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 April #3
When popular high school senior Holland discovers that "the man of her dreams is a girl," she faces homophobia at school and, most painfully, at home. Peters (Define "Normal") raises important points about the ramifications of coming out, but covers so much territory that her plotting suffers. Holland is juggling a tough school schedule, responsibilities as student council president, college applications, a serious boyfriend and a meddling mom when open lesbian Cece transfers to her school. The instant spark between them leads to flirtation, then to an intense relationship. Holland is thankful she "risked change" despite the serious consequences: not only does her mother throw her out of the house, but Cece is keeping something from her. Holland's adjustment to her new sexuality after she first kisses Cece seems too sudden, and while Peters foreshadows her mother's intolerance in some ways (she throws out a T-shirt belonging to Holland's goth stepsister, Faith), her reaction when Holland confesses comes across as extreme. Secondary story lines, such as Holland's abrupt discovery of her artistic ability, and her budding friendship with Faith, whom she originally judged harshly, feel contrived. Readers will appreciate Holland's new ability to live free of others' expectations-and they may learn a great deal about the spectrum of reactions a teen can face in coming out-but the messages here seem to take precedence over plot. Ages 14-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. #

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School Library Journal Reviews 2003 May
Gr 9 Up-Holland Jaeger goes steady with a good-looking boy and contemplates attending an Ivy League college in the fall. Then she meets "out-and-proud" lesbian Cece Goddard, and her life changes. Within a matter of weeks, the two begin an affair that eventually leads to a committed relationship. Holland loses old friends, encounters vicious discrimination, and is thrown out of the house by her hysterical mother. She finds help at the local Gay Resource Center, however, and begins to look forward to attending a local college after high school, with Cece by her side. Peters knows how to tell an intriguing story. However, while both teens are likable, believable characters, the confidence with which Cece proudly proclaims her sexual orientation at school strains credibility. This aside, the antigay slurs, viciousness, and prejudice the girls endure certainly leave an indelible impression. Peters's message may be heavy-handed at times, but, overall, this is a well-written and thought-provoking novel.-Robert Gray, East Central Regional Library, Cambridge, MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2003 June
Anyone who has ever fallen in love will recognize themselves in the realistic characters of this captivating love story. Holland Jaeger, high school senior and student council president, is comfortable with the status quo. She has a steady boyfriend, Seth, and her mother, who dropped out of high school to have Holland, pushes the college applications that Holland is avoiding. When the new student, Cecelia Goddard, catches her eye, Holland's world is soon turned upside down. Cece's IMRU? T-shirt with a rainbow triangle is Holland's first clue that any students at Southglenn High might be gay-let alone out and proud. Although Cece permeates her thoughts and dreams, Holland is unready to acknowledge the attraction. Adolescent pains multiply when Holland does not want to hurt Seth, but she realizes that their relationship is over. How will others close to her react to Holland's new lesbian identity? Readers will anticipate, cringe, laugh, and cry along as Holland grows into her new love and new life. When her mother overreacts, readers realize that the story is not atypical for gay youth. Not just a gay love story, this book transcends barriers, allowing readers of all persuasions to revel in its universal truths about self-knowledge, acceptance, pride, and the hardships of wrestling with the perceptions and comfort of others. There is no graphic sex but excessive excitement of new love that is right; however, although Holland's mother monitors her birth control pills, there is no mention of safe sex.-Cynthia Winfield. 5Q 5P J S Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews

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