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The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

Rating: 2.75/5 Stars (Yep, it's really hard for me to give just a two or a three-and this one fell in between for me-sorry my ratings are so wacky!)

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 1/7/2010

About the Book: On Labor Day, Julia was killed in a car accident. People at school mourn Julia's loss, but Colt's mourning is much deeper-and a secret. For the past year, he and Julia have been sharing a secret relationship-meeting after dark and not telling anyone about it. When Colt discovers a journal kept by Julia which contains letters addressed to him, he can't seem to let go.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I'm not really sure what to say about this one. It was OK-I didn't think it was spectacular, but I didn't dislike it either. I did think the premise was more engaging than the book itself.

Honestly, I found Colt to be an annoying character-I never really felt sympathy for him. I know I was supposed to care about his loss and his mourning for Julia, but I never did. And I wished Julia's letters would have been more interesting-she felt very bland and it was hard for me to see why Colt liked her in the first place-other than the fact they were having sex. Their relationship never seemed that interesting or exciting. Even after Julia's death, Colt is presented with chances to move on, but he never really does.

I also felt there was too much trying to happen in the plot. There's the storyline about Colt and Julia, but any mystery there was lacking, so it fell a little flat for me. Then there's a storyline about the rich kids (Julia's crowd) and the poor kids (Colt's crowd). Add in some new romance possibilities for Colt, and a brother who is off to college and learning about his sexuality and it felt like there was too much going on.

The description on Amazon describes it as Romeo and Juliet mixed with The Outsiders and I'll admit the book did remind me of The Outsiders with a dash of romance while I was reading it. Granted, it's been years since I've read that book, so the comparison may not hold true. But I'm planning on recommending this one to my teens who come in looking for books by S.E. Hinton and I think they'll enjoy it.

The book was interesting enough to keep me reading and Colt's revelation at the end was shocking, but it just came a little too late to truly work for me. I do think Ms. Hubbard is a talented author and I hope she grows from here because I could see her books getting better and better. Plus, I think my teens who read this one will be clamoring for more.

Reviewed from ARC provided by the publisher


  1. I've been intrigued with this one since hearing about it last summer. Off to check if my library has ordered a copy.

  2. Finally someone that didn't give this book a 5, I agree with everything you said!

  3. This sounds so much like Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why (which was published in 2007). A girl commits suicide, and a boy who had a crush on her gets audio tapes explaining the reasons she did it. Hmmm...

  4. Caroline-I hope you can find it-I'm intersted in your thoughts!

    Eleni-I'm so glad someone else sees all that too!:)

    Cass-You're right-it did somewhat remind me of 13 Reasons Why, which is another book that my teens love, but doesn' really work for me.

  5. I really liked 13 Reasons Why. I think I'd like this if I find a time to get to it, but it's not one I NEED right now.


  6. Some people love this, some people hate it. When there are great reviews like this, people backing up their opinions, it makes me even more curious to read whichever book. I guess I'll just have to see for myself. :]
    Really, though, a great, honest review.

  7. Lauren-I know what you mean-there are waay too many books I want to read!

    Robby-If you do read it, let me know what you think. I love hearing other people's opinions on books and I always try to back up my reasons why a book didn't work for me-it bothers me when people say they don't like a book but can't explain why.

  8. Well that's a tad disappointing. I've been clamoring for this book, it just arrived from Amazon today, and now I read this. But I'm so glad your reviews are always honest. :D Thanks as usual for your thoughts.

    (I received Hush, Hush in the mail this week btw. THANK YOU!)

  9. Sarah-I'm glad you got it!:) And I'm looking forward to reading your review-I hope you like this one.

  10. Between this and your opinion on When You Reach Me, I'm starting to think we might be Book Twins or something. xD I liked this one, but it wasn't spectacular for me either.

  11. Thanks for your honest, balanced review. I may look for this at the library.

  12. Khy-haha-we need to start comparing books!:)

    Stephanie-I hope you find it at the library!

  13. Sorry that you did not enjoy this one. It doesn't seem like my thing.

  14. I always enjoy your reviews and especially your reasons for your comments. It does sound like an interesting premise but I can see where the story could get bogged down. I'm so glad to hear you expect more good books from this author. I'll be looking for those and I might look for this one at the library. Awesome review!


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