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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong and original coming-of-age story
This wonderful coming-of-age story by Robin Reardon transcends stereotypes, focusing on a main character who is, if not a jock, athletic. Jason Peele is on his school's track team, and so are all of his potential romantic interests.

It's nice to see an author address gays who are athletically inclined. The topic isn't broached enough, in my humble opinion to...
Published on July 20, 2007 by Jonathan Appleseed

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for gay teens only
Jason Peele is 16, in high school and on the school track team. He's also starting to realize he's gay. He then meets a new student at school named Raj who's also on the track team. Jason falls hard for him and they begin to explore their feelings for each other.

For some gay male teens (mostly ones coming out) this book will probably be helpful. Jason is an...
Published 9 months ago by Wayne M. Malin


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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong and original coming-of-age story, July 20, 2007
This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
This wonderful coming-of-age story by Robin Reardon transcends stereotypes, focusing on a main character who is, if not a jock, athletic. Jason Peele is on his school's track team, and so are all of his potential romantic interests.

It's nice to see an author address gays who are athletically inclined. The topic isn't broached enough, in my humble opinion to reflect reality. In other words, there are a large number of high school teens who play football, baseball, basketball, tennis, teens who are on the track team, swim team, etc. - who are just as good as their heterosexual counterparts, and who get short shrift in gay literature. These teens, seeking out YA gay literature, don't find themselves in many books and are often disillusioned. There are notable exceptions of course. Alex Sanchez' superb "Rainbow Trilogy" (Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road ), comes to mind, as one of the three main characters is the star of the basketball team, and another is on the swim team.

But this isn't just a book with athletic teens. This is an extremely well written and well researched book. Jason's journey is an interesting one. We meet him in the first chapter after a wet dream (about David Bowie - to each their own, I suppose <grin>), and watch him grow. We see how easy it is for him to be around girls, how willing he is to help others, and how difficult and tongue tied he is around boys, especially one - Raj, an Indian student on the track team whose event is the high jump. (Jason's is the relay, and I think, the 100 meter dash.) Jason is immensely likable. He seems at all times to take other people's problems and concerns into consideration, at one point going so far as to tell a girl something that could backfire, if she chose to have loose lips. He is honorable and kindhearted, and these are the qualities that attract Raj - and the reader.

It's also nice to see an interracial relationship depicted without any of the typical (and clichéd) race issues. Jason sees Raj, and is attracted to him. When he gets to know Raj, he likes him even more because Raj is a nice guy. Period. (As it should be in an ideal world - not that this book expresses utopian ideals...) There's never a question about whether or not he could see himself with someone of a different nationality. Reardon handles their relationship deftly.

There are times when the book might feel preachy to some, and I mention this in my review only to refute reviews that (if written in the future, because as of this writing there are none) look down on it. I'm of the opinion that the book is not preachy; rather, it's sharing essential information that teens need. Just the facts, ma'am - so to speak.

Robin Reardon has a strong, assertive voice, is able to portray different yet complex characters adeptly, and is unquestionably a writer to keep an eye on.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A STANDOUT IN AN OVERCROWDED GENRE, October 25, 2007
By 
Jak Klinikowski "justjak13" (El Paso, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
Coming of age stories constitute a huge segment of the gay fiction market, and I've certainly read my share. A SECRET EDGE is one such story, filled with all the angst and wonder one comes to expect from this genre. But this novel veers from the standard formula, with a detailed exploration of violence versus non-violence, and manages to bring a fresh take to an often stale format.

Jason Peele is a cute blonde sixteen year old high school runner. He's not exactly a jock, but he's athletic. In school, he is neither a member of the in crowd, nor is he a glaring social pariah. He's smart and marginally self assured. But Jason's not a big kid, and he's been the target of jealous bullies on more than one occasion. He knows the goons that picked on him growing up are teenagers now too, capable of a great deal more harm, and Jason refuses to be coward. He secretly carries a switchblade in his pocket, and the knife gives him an added sense of security.

On the first day of track tryouts, Jason notices a dark handsome student practicing the high jump and is instantly smitten. Raj is from India, and moved with his family to the States when he was twelve. Jason is confused and just becoming aware of his sexuality, but Raj has known about himself for quite some time and recognizes a kindred spirit in Jason. It doesn't take Raj long to make the initial move, and Jason suddenly finds his world turned upside down.

Raj is a follower of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, and is determined to impress Gandhi's non violent philosophies upon Jason. Jason's an eager student, but when Raj discovers his secret weapon, he becomes enraged, and stops speaking to Jason. Both are stubborn teenage boys, and as their communication breakdown continues, what hope is there for a relationship?

A SECRET EDGE is written in first person present tense, and told from Jason's point of view. It's a fast paced well delivered story, intended primarily for a young audience, but sufficiently entertaining for a more mature one. The book's style is crisp, the plot well thought out, and with its message of non-violence, is a wonderful addition to a somewhat overcrowded field.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It Is Impossible To Eschew Violence Completely.", August 12, 2007
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This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
Sixteen-year-old Jason Peele and his Indian boyfriend Raj spend a lot of time debating the philosophy of the pacifist Gandhi and his teaching of nonviolence. Their disagreement on the subject is cause for much of the conflict in this really fine coming-of-age novel. Both young men are on their high school track team (where they meet) and both have been the target of harassment and/or violence because of their perceived sexual orientation. They have different ideas, however, of how to confront violence.

A SECRET EDGE-- from what the title means, to the well-developed characters to the plot-- is a book that high school students, both straight and gay as well as the confused, should read. It is instructive without being didactic. I am not sure that today's teenagers fully appreciate how far this country has come in the quest for rights for gay people. There was nothing that would have come close to this wonderful novel in my high school library.

Jason, who lost his parents when just a child, has a loving, sensitive Aunt Audrey. When he tells her he is gay, her response is simply "I know." His Uncle Steve is decent; his track coach is supportive (and you find out why). He also has a straight friend Robert whom he helps with his English assignments and another friend from the track team, Norm, who is struggling with his sexual orientation and plans to come out only when he is in college and away from his parents.

This novel is ultimately about honesty and the courage to be who you are as well as a sweet love story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, July 4, 2007
By 
Eve M. (Somerville, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
The book is wonderful, evocative of emotional states that, as a psychotherapist, I recognize as accurate, real, convincing. The writing is also delightful, with little surprises hidden in the pages like tiny chocolate mints.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Very" Secret Edge, October 11, 2007
By 
Kris Kleeberg "Kris the Romantic" (In (sigh) Paradise, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
This is an especially well-written book that not only deals with coming out on the high school and jock scene, but it deals with the cross-cultural dimension of two men loving coming from completely different cultures. It is insightful, and you will be glad that you have taken the time to read this title. It is also a "can't-put-it-down" book until finished story. Trust me, you will not want to stop reading this story until the last page and even then wish for more.
Kris Kleeberg
krisparadise@sbcglobal.net
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quick, Compelling Read, July 24, 2007
This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
This book succeeds in so many ways, down to the irresistible cover design and physical feel of the book! Kensington has done itself proud.

In the tradition of the Front Runner, and of lesbians writing convincingly about gay male attraction (though most reviewers don't seem to realize the author is a woman!), A Secret Edge makes sports engaging even for non-sports fans, because its heart is with the relationship between two very different people--and even more, with the struggle for inner strength of the main character, an appealing orphan high-schooler named Jason Peele.

Jason is a well-balanced character, vulnerable but not weak, considerate but properly assertive. He is bright, curious, good-natured and likes to challenge himself. We care about Jason's success, because Jason is a thoughtful sort who cares for others while still looking out for number one.

The only flaws in the book are the somewhat contrived melodramas (decide for yourself whether this is a flaw or not) and the fact that Raj, the love interest, could be more likeable. What kind of guy forces a date into the library to learn about his culture? Although Raj's behavior is, ultimately, satisfyingly explained, I'm not entirely convinced that Jason would sustain an attraction to him.

A successful concoction of athletics, high-school social pitfalls, coming-out angst, interracial attraction, and family drama, A Secret Edge is a clear-eyed and refreshingly non-tragic gay romance.

Reardon's style is clear, efficient, vivid, and compelling. This well-paced, well-plotted tale is memorable and worth re-reading. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, October 2, 2007
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This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
Robin Reardon has accomplished a marvelous feat in gay literature. Although focused on, I believe, a teenage audience, there is enough going on here to happily keep an adult's attention. She has successfully composed a wonderful coming-of-age tale that has all the right elements in it. There's lots of conflict to keep your attention on the plot. There are wonderfully developed characters that are different enough to make sure you don't get confused. There is a focus on mentorship from Jason's (the main character) surrogate parents. There is love and lust. There is that 'first time' element that makes it sexy. There is a knowing that time is on Jason's side.

This story is an excellent addition to the genre. Thank you for bringing tears to my eyes and allowing me once again to peek back to that time when this slice of life would have applied to me. That's one good way to tell a story: allow it sing directly to my heart. I look forward to other stories by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A coming out story with realistic modern themes, January 23, 2008
By 
This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
The book I read previous to A SECRET EDGE was somewhat of a deep and arduous task, so it came as a great relief to next read something light and diverting. A SECRET EDGE is a contemporary high school coming out story - I know, like we don't have enough of THOSE. But what makes this one stand out from the myriad of others is that Robin Reardon has written something that teenagers of today might actually relate to. Instead of the normal torment and angst and parents who don't understand, Reardon has given us characters that are much truer to today's situations. When Jason, an orphan being raised by his aunt and uncle, comes out to them; his aunt startles him by saying she already knew - a common reaction nowadays. His uncle takes it a little harder but quickly comes around to acceptance. The scenario of tolerance is more realistic than it would have been when I was a teenager some 25 years ago and I really believe that makes the story more relatable to teenagers today dealing with these issues. Don't get me wrong, Reardon doesn't skirt the issue of homophobia and gay-bashing, it's just not as prominent. Reardon's writing style is very enjoyable. Jason is a smart kid, and he displays a lot of wit in sorting out his confusion. I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. There's a bit of sex too. It comes nowhere close to being erotica, but for a book marketed to gay teens, I was a little surprised at the somewhat explicit sexual descriptions. When I was sixteen, I would have felt very uncomfortable and guilty reading those passages, but that was then, today's teenagers might not even bat at eye at it.

So whether you're a teenager who is struggling with your orientation or an adult who enjoys light romantic coming out stories, a SECRET EDGE will fit the bill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Insight, May 27, 2008
By 
R. Montgomery (Carson City, NV) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
Everything I wished I had experienced and didn't. I went to high school in the 50's. So, thanks to Robin, I got to be young again. It is an emotional book that pulls no punches and alternately fills your heart with joy and sometimes with doubt and emptiness. I didn't want it to end and I couldn't turn pages fast enough. No need for a bookmark on this one. Robin has another book out,"Thinking Straight", and I hope there are many more to come. Thanks for a wonderful experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, couldn't put it down!, June 17, 2008
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This review is from: A Secret Edge (Paperback)
Robin Reardon has written an excellent novel. I had a hard time putting it down and that's the real test for me. Her characters are developed expertly and the plot is full of twists, turns, and conflict which kept me wanting to read on. This book is perfect for any teenager who's questioning sexual orientation and it's a great read for adults also. Now that's good writing. Reardon is an author to watch. She just may be our next Patricia Nell Warren.
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A Secret Edge
A Secret Edge by Robin Reardon (Paperback - June 1, 2007)
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