Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard as book which has surprised me in a good way. The premise had me intrigued, but as I looked at the book I was concerned that the 200 pages wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me, given the serious subject matter. I think Hubbard nailed it.
What I loved most about this novel was the fact that the characters were so realistic. None of them were perfect, nor did they pretend to be. Their emotions felt so honest to me. I loved that Colt narrated the book. I feel like in YA literature there are very few male narrators (I realize that Beautiful Creatures also does), but I found Colt to be sweet, humorous and even frustrating at times. At several points I thought, “Oh, I have been” or thinking to a character, “Really? Oy.” There were times when I felt like I knew the characters and could feel what they felt. That is talent.
Hubbard is a skilled writer. While I did admittedly rant about the lip licking on Twitter (I just rarely see people in real life do that), I didn’t struggle to visualize the characters or setting. She did a fantastic job of setting the emotional tone of the novel.
This is not, suffice it to say, a happy story. But I thought that Hubbard’s ending was absolutely perfect, both in its realism and the conclusions it provided about the characters. If you’re having doubts about whether or not you should pick up this novel, let me suggest that you do. I think Hubbard will grow to become a beloved writer, and I look forward to reading more by her.
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of this book from my awesome local library.