Review: Keeping you a secret by Julie Anne Peters
I must admit, when I think of LGBTQ-themed young adult fiction I’m rather sceptical. Mainly because, unless it’s written by a young LGBTQ community member in the present day, how realistic can it be? That said I’m going to sum up this book in one sentence: It’s filled with LBGTQ clichés yet still powerful and it successfully explores the issues involved in coming out.
For the first half of the book I hated the main character, Holland Jeager. She seemed like not only a bad girlfriend, but also a bad friend and ultimately dull. That is, until her main love interest Cece Goddard showed up. The story perked up at that point, as did the characters, especially once ‘out and proud’ Cece joined Holland’s homophobic high school and instantly made Holland realise she might be gay.
Holland was the popular girl at school, part of the student body council, obsessed with kids and attached to the perfect boyfriend. Cece was the typical rainbow-loving hippy we’re so used to seeing in LGBT books and films. However, things get really interesting when the two get together and everyone finds out. I’m not ashamed to say I cried on a packed train during the chapter where her mother kicks her out. It was heartbreaking, maddening and at times unbearable for me to read and the homophobia that both Holland’s mother carries as well as her ‘friends’ at school was sickening, but sadly, often all-too-real. Overall the book was gritty, raw and in the end a great read. I’m glad I read it and would recommend it to anyone who wants an LGBTQ novel that’s a bit of a lighter read.