Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Secret Year

Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.
Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?
Beth says 4.5 Stars...
The first debut I've read this year! Excitement and thrills. I honestly don't know why I picked this book up. It isn't what I generally gravitate towards since I normally go for fantasy. I'm glad I branched out a little for this one. It's interesting in that there isn't much of a plot. There's some tension and interplay between the rich kids and poor kids, but it doesn't drive the story. Instead, the story is about the characters and Colt's grieving process. Most of the really interesting action is told through Julia's journal entries and Colt's flashbacks to whatever was happening at the moment. This made the story structure very interesting, since it super-imposed the past and the present without really overlapping the two. It was different than anything I'd read recently, which was refreshing. I love it when authors are bold enough to do something different. The romance wasn't the only thing happening in the book. It also explored the dynamics of Colt's family, which was so fascinating. It wasn't sunshine and puppies, let me tell you.
The characters make this book. All of the important ones are so well done; they felt very real while I was reading. I can't believe that Colt was written by a woman! He sounded like an actual teenage guy, not how a girl would think a guy should be. The depth of emotion he delt with was remarkable. The supporting characters are also amazing; I feel a particular soft spot for Colt's older brother Tom. Some of the periphery characters fell a bit flat, but it wasn't too bad. The novel is completely driven by the characters, and because of Hubbard's skill at creating them was able to succeed. There's so much teenage angst, and while I understand the reasons for it, it did get to be a bit much for me, but just barely. That's actually a huge compliament, because generally whenever there's more than a teensy bit of angst I get annoyed and want to smack the main character. Instead I felt sorry for Colt (most of the time).
Overall, this was a great way to start my year reading debuts! I'm excited for whatever Hubbard brings to the table next, because this shows real talent and a lovely voice. This is for fans of realistic fiction, in particular those who like romantic books. This is looking at it from the other side, something that doesn't get done often. A really good read, and a fast one as well.
Book from Library


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