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Keeping You a Secret Hardcover – May 7, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Holland Jaeger goes steady with a good-looking boy and contemplates attending an Ivy League college in the fall. Then she meets "out-and-proud" lesbian Cece Goddard, and her life changes. Within a matter of weeks, the two begin an affair that eventually leads to a committed relationship. Holland loses old friends, encounters vicious discrimination, and is thrown out of the house by her hysterical mother. She finds help at the local Gay Resource Center, however, and begins to look forward to attending a local college after high school, with Cece by her side. Peters knows how to tell an intriguing story. However, while both teens are likable, believable characters, the confidence with which Cece proudly proclaims her sexual orientation at school strains credibility. This aside, the antigay slurs, viciousness, and prejudice the girls endure certainly leave an indelible impression. Peters's message may be heavy-handed at times, but, overall, this is a well-written and thought-provoking novel.
Robert Gray, East Central Regional Library, Cambridge, MN
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Reviewed with Tea Benduhn's Gravel Queen.

Gr. 9-12. In these novels about first love, a high-school girl falls hard for another girl and faces the complicated pain of coming out to family, friends, and to one's self. In Gravel Queen, the author's debut novel, Aurin explores her first gay relationship, and finds that her best friend, a glamorous, possessive drama queen, is jealous. Benduhn focus on Aurin's self-discovery and friendships, closing the novel before Aurin tells her family what's going on. In Keeping You a Secret, model high-school senior Holland, who has a boyfriend, develops an overwhelming crush on Cece. The girls fall passionately in love and a tragic coming-out story ensues. Holland finds herself homeless and alone, except for Cece and a new gay support system.

Both novels, written in first-person, are filled with believable inner monologues and finely tuned contemporary dialogue. Benduhn includes some interesting cinematic references related to Aurin's filmmaking aspirations, but some of her descriptions are over-the-top. Peters' story and characters are more developed. Both books are romantic and layered, and many teens, particularly those with fluid sexual identities, will recognize the questions: Do you have to kiss someone to be gay? What do fantasies mean? Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers; 1 edition (May 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316702757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316702751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

For the last 20+ years, I've been writing books for young readers. My YA novel, Luna, the story of a transgender teen beginning her transition from male to female, was a National Book Award finalist and an American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. (Thank you award committee members.) My other books about gender queer youth include Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu (retitled, Pretend You Love Me), Between Mom and Jo, grl2grl: short fictions, Rage: A Love Story, She Loves You, She Loves You Not..., It's Our Prom (So Deal With It), and my newest book scheduled for 2014, The Double Life of Swanee Durbin. Also check out my book about bullycide, By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead.

I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN America, the Authors Guild, and the Colorado Authors' League. I live with my partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado. (We're celebrating our 38th anniversary this year.

More information about me and my books can be found on my Web site: www.JulieAnnePeters.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an absolutely amazing book about teens, sexuality, and society. Peters does a wonderful job in capturing the issues surrounding coming out for young people, and deals with them courageously and realistically. She delivers a story of one girl who is supported by her parents and another who is disowned. One girl who is openly and comfortably gay, and another who is closeted and dealing with her newly-realized sexuality. These girls find comfort in each other as they deal with internal and external forces. If a book like this had been available 20 years ago, I might have made different choices in my own life. I might even have my own pre-teen daughters read it.

The book is well-written, thoughtful, and easy to read. I haven't read a story this good in a very long time.

Recommended for anyone of any age who is dealing with issues of sexuality... accompanied with a Coke and a bowl of Bing cherries...

Did I mention I really liked this book?
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Format: Hardcover
While I found this book to be fairly predictable, what really made me angry about it was how unhealthy the relationship between Cece and Holland actually was, although the author presents it as wonderful. I kept thinking that if Cece's character were male, people would be jumping all over this, because she's frankly rather awful. An unhealthy relationship doesn't become healthy just because both parties are female.

Let's look at what actually happens here: Holland begins her relationship with Cece, who forbids Holland to come out, even though she wants to, isolating Holland from all her previous friends. She refuses to introduce Holland to her OWN friends, because she is so possessive that she is afraid one of them will "steal" her (in describing a former relationship, Cece is furious that her former girlfriend broke up with her, saying about the girl "I found her! She was mine!" Alarm bells, anyone???) Then, after being booted by her mother, Holland gets into Stanford. But instead of calling them up and asking for financial aid, asking for a defferal, or ANYTHING, she decides she has to stay in the area because of her great love for this girl she's only been dating for... what? Two months? And she ends up living in a halfway house and going to community college. If a character in a novel did something like this for a boy, no one would be praising it. I don't see how it's different because the characters are lesbians. Cece isolates Holland to the point where she has no other friends at all, and then encourages her to give up a great opportunity because she wants to keep Holland nearby. This is not how love is supposed to look.
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By A Customer on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Now that her senior year has arrived, Holland Jaeger finds life is not so simple. Her mother is pressing her to go to law school. This is not Holland's dream, however her mother seems intent on living vicariously through Holland's life. She wants only the best for Holland. Therefore it is up to Holland to get the best grades, apply to the best schools, and meet everyone's expectations.
When Holland finds herself attracted to a new student, she realizes she's going to have a very serious problem with her current boyfriend; he's too needy. Since they began having [a relationship], that is all he seems to want to do. The new student, Cece, is an 'out-and-proud' lesbian, and Holland finds herself in the greatest relationship ever. What price will she pay when she decides to follow her heart?
KEEPING YOU A SECRET tackles a tough subject in a lighthearted manner. Now there is a lot in this book to which I cannot relate. My parents did not force me to follow their dreams and, as a heterosexual woman, I have no experience with the discrimination that lesbians face. I know when I was in high school there were no [guys in relationships] or lesbians that I knew of. In retrospect now that some of them have "come out", I am surprised that they did manage to keep it hidden so well, and saddened that they felt they had to hide the essence of who they were.
Those issues aside, I found myself intrigued with Julie Anne Peters writing. Her views are honest and handled well. Teen [relationships are]not ignored; instead it is handled honestly with both the pros and cons taken into consideration. Birth control is discussed without being preached. All of these were issues we hated listening to as kids, but they are important nonetheless.
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Format: Paperback
The second book I've read by Julie Anne Peters, KEEPING YOU A SECRET is another sure-fire winner about the highs and lows of first love, the terror and joy of "coming out", and the good and the bad that is the thing called family.

Holland Jaeger is the "It" girl everyone envies--she has great friends, she's President of the Student Body, she's the girlfriend of Seth, she's the popular girl who can be counted on to always get along with everyone. That is, until Cece Goddard transfers in, and Holland's once-perfect life no longer seems so great.

The first time she sees Cece, Holland feels something that she's never felt before. Although sexually active with her boyfriend, Seth, having sex is more like a chore--she'd much rather sit around talking, the way they used to do when they were friends rather than lovers. As Cece flaunts her homosexuality, wearing shirts proclaiming herself out and proud, Holland wonders what it means when her attraction to Cece becomes almost an obsession.

College looms on the horizon and no one, especially her mother, will quit asking her where she's going. They have big plans for her, you see, both her mother, who became a single parent way too young, Seth, and the career counselor at her school. Forced into a role she doesn't want, Holland escapes into her art class, drawing away from her former friends as feelings and emotions she can't control rush to the surface.

As Holland realizes that she is, in fact, a lesbian, her perfect life is suddenly out of control. She's shunned by her former friends at school, her mother kicks her out of the house, she's forced to live in a run-down motel that's now a shelter, and she's not sure she'll be able to attend college at all.
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