Yes, we all have secrets. But secret-keeping is not always one of my favorite plot devices. I recently read two books, each of which had a main character keeping a BIG secret from a potential love interest. In one book, I though the secret-keeping was completely justified. In the other, I was a little skeptical -- but overall it worked.
by Meredith Russo
To be published by Flatiron Books
on May 3, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.
My take: An important book that tries to do a lot - this is an identity story, a love story, a family story, a friendship story, and an emotional journey. Amanda's secret is one that previously put her in danger, so I was actually on board with her secret-keeping. I wanted her to be safe. I worried the entire time I read If I Was Your Girl - just hoping that things would turn out okay for Amanda and that she would be all right, both physically and emotionally.
I learned a lot from reading this book. And I loved the way it was something very different from the typical YA and yet somehow felt completely relatable and familiar. New girl in a small town with a big secret. Parents who don't understand. Uncertainty about whom to trust. The whole "you won't love me if I show you the 'real' me" is a universal fear that all of us can relate to, and I think that aspect of the book will resonate with just about every reader.
by Ashley Herring Blake
To be published on May 3, 2016
by HMH Books
Source: ARC from the publisher for review.
Synopsis: Hadley St. Clair's life changed the day she came home to a front door covered in slips of paper, each of them revealing the ugly truth about her father. Now as her family falls apart in the wake of his year-long affair, Hadley wants everyone-her dad most of all-to leave her alone. Then she meets Sam Bennett, a cute new boy who inexplicably "feels like home" to Hadley. Hadley and Sam's connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret about his family that could ruin everything.My take: At first, I worried this book would just be a non-stop cheese-fest. And yes, it does have a cheesy (and fairly implausible) premise that reminded me a bit of a New Adult storyline. Suffer Love draws on a couple of the oldest romance tropes out there - the Couple Who Cannot Be Together and The Big Secret. I'm a huge sucker for the first. While I hate the idea of a relationship developing under the cloud of secret keeping, the way this book handled this trope still felt plausible to me.
In the end, Suffer Love really won me over. Yes, this book had cheesy aspects. And some fairly implausible aspects. But it still managed to be a gripping and moving read. Unlike a lot of books about infidelity, this one really shows the emotional fallout that cheating creates. And I loved that this book was NOT just an angst-fest, but a well-rounded romantic contemporary, with characters who have friendships and family relationships and hobbies (like boys who bake...) I still had to push aside my disbelief that this relationship could survive in the long haul, but I'm going to let the romantic in me win out!
Tell me in comments: how do you feel about books where one character keeps a HUGE secret from another?