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.
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
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