Monday, November 14, 2011

Tell Me a Secret ~ Holly Cupala review

Tell Me a Secret
HarperTeen
June 22, 2010
304 pages
Amazon/Goodreads



It's been five years since Miranda's daring older sister Xanda died. Miranda still wonders what the secret was that Xanda never got a chance to tell her . . . and what really happened the night Xanda died.

Now, finally, at he age of seventeen, Miranda has a real life of her own: a best friend who's enough like Xanda to bring Miranda into Xanda's world, a boyfriend who will be there with her in college, and a talent for art that's going to get her into art school and away from her family.

But, Miranda's keeping her own secret, something that's about to put all of that in jeopardy: two little lines on a pregnancy test.

With everything - and maybe everyone - about to be taken away from her, Miranda knows she has choices to make . . . and things to confront.



There were times when Miranda was thinking a certain way about her pregnancy or her family and/or friends (and their role in her decisions) and I could not disagree with her more. Most books it's easy to know whether that means the character just doesn't work for you or whether the character is meant to be a character who's unlikable or lacking some necessary growth that might come later. With Tell Me a Secret, though, it was hard to tell. It was unclear at times whether Miranda's views were what Cupala really wanted her to think as a likable, relatable character whose motivation you weren't supposed to find anything wrong with. Or, if you were supposed to see that she had a flawed perspective.

The novel's strengths, far outweighed this possible weakness. The way Miranda's relationship with her friends - and even her family - changed once her pregnancy was revealed seemed very accurate. In locations where teen pregnancy is not that prevalent (and maybe where it is), girls who get pregnant don't have it easy and the novel stays true to that. It doesn't become too fictional simply to give Miranda a happier story.

Tell Me a Secret is fiction, but it is very realistic fiction and rings all the more true because of that.

The last third of the book will really tear you down (especially if you've personally experienced certain events or know anyone who has). There's a lot of detail used - enough that anyone who's familiar with a similar situation won't be distracted by discrepancies - but not so much that the writing feels weighed down or the reader gets bogged down with it.

Holly Cupala has written a stunning debut novel with amazing looks at the relationships between mothers and daughters and between sisters. Readers will definitely want more form Cupala - and in January they'll get it with Don't Breathe a Word  (Amazon & Goodreads).

(Great for older YA readers and even adults.)

9/10

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