31 May 2011

THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer R. Hubbard

THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer R. Hubbard
YA - Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 2010 by Viking Juvenile

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?

The basic premise of a boy and a girl from opposite worlds/classes/situations is nothing new, but the way this one plays out certainly is. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.  I surprised myself, even, with how much I felt for the main character, Colton. He’s intense and desperate and sad, and he’s also this regular teen boy living his life. He’s not rich or popular or the best looking guy in school, and sex is a part of his life.

Julie dies (not a spoiler!) and he’s stuck with a hole in his life that no one knows exists. Except him. He’s left with questions that will never be answered: Would Julia ever have dated him openly? Would their hook-up relationship have faded into nothing eventually? Colt doesn’t know and now he never will, and neither will the reader.  THE SECRET YEAR follows him as he comes to terms with the aftermath of Julia’s death and what’s been left behind, and figures out who he wants to be.

This is a solid debut for Jennifer Hubbard, and I look forward to more books of hers in the future.

Happy reading!

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