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Tell Me a Secret Hardcover – June 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up As school begins, 17-year-old Rand knows that she is pregnant. She wants to tell her boyfriend, but after being away at camp all summer she doesn't feel as close to Kamran as she once did. Making matters worse, she is increasingly certain that he is dating her best friend behind her back. Because of this, Rand is all but cut off from her social group, and her controlling mother and emotionally absent father, still reeling from the death of their other daughter five years earlier, don't offer any emotional support either. When she decides to keep her baby, her parents force her to give up her dreams of art school to get a job. Just when everything seems like it couldn't possibly get any worse, Rand faces the dangerously early birth of her baby. In the end, she discovers not only who her true friends are, but also the truth about her sister's death. Along with a rekindled relationship with her parents, these facets of the story contribute to a somewhat resolved ending, though not much positive happens during this bleak novel. Even if other characters are not outright mean to her, almost no one treats Rand with any kindness. Some may appreciate Cupala's gritty realism, but others will find this overwrought book a real downer. Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
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From Booklist

Haunted by the death of her older sister, Xanda, in a car crash five years earlier, Seattle high-school senior Miranda barely relates to her cold parents, quarrels with her girlfriends, and has sex with gorgeous Kamran, who dumps her. Then she discovers that she is pregnant. She finds support online with other expectant mothers, even though she isn’t truthful about her own scenario. And she loves her baby girl, Lexi, even in the womb, and that gives her hope after a long, painful labor and very premature birth. This lengthy, repetitive first novel draws out the family secrets. How exactly did Xanda die? Was her boyfriend drunk, or was it Xanda’s fault? Miranda’s mother is demonized, but teens will be held by the fresh take on the teen-pregnancy plot, and Miranda’s first-person contemporary narrative elevates this title above problem-novel clichés. Heartbreaking and hopeful, the details of Miranda’s bonding with Lexi and her discovery of kindness and family are the core of the story. Grades 9-12. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061766666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061766664
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,936,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Holly Cupala wrote teen romance novels before she ever actually experienced teen romance. When she did, it became all about tragic poetry and slightly less tragic novels. When she isn't contributing and writing, she spends time with her husband and daughter in Seattle, Washington. These days, her writing is less about tragedy and more about hope.

Part of the author's proceeds from this book will go toward helping sexually exploited girls around the globe. TELL ME A SECRET is her first novel. Learn more at or visit her blog at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By flamingo1325 VINE VOICE on June 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Emotional, tumultuous and encapsulating, Tell Me A Secret will slip the reader into Rand 's world from the start. Cupala has an astounding ability to infuse emotion in even the most simplest of sentences, forming a very palpable bond between the reader and Rand. The overwhelming sense of loneliness, fear and confusion which penetrate much of this novel will pour into the reader.

Pregnant at the start, Rand denies the possibility. Her thought processes and constant deals- if I haven't started by this event, then I'll take a test- strike the teenage mindset from the start. Rand 's intelligence comes across but the immaturity inherent with her age mingles comfortably with it. Her refusal to acknowledge certain situations and turning a blind eye to obvious clues also plays into not only her age but her character. Her reasons for doing things run years back and a large part of the story is Rand coming to terms with everything that's happened over those years. Through well placed flashbacks, smooth transitions between past and present, and striking scenes, not only is Rand's relationship with Kamram explained but her memories of her sister and the very rocky relationship between Xanda and their mother. Rand's own rebellion, anger, and hurt run deep, spilling out in unexpected places. With each new curve thrown at her, Rand matures a little more and her overall character development is phenomenally handled. Her resistance to some of the changes keeps the reader in the teenage mindset while still holding, overall, a more mature and knowledgeable tone.

Rand's sense of fear and uncertainty is magnified by her home life, two parents who exist separately in the same house. Torn apart by Xanda's actions and death, Rand 's house has not provided much haven for her in years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Colleen on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Tell Me a Secret is emotional and intriguing from its very first chapter. Holly Cupala perfectly captures her main character's teenage response to her situation, depicting Rand's array of emotions thoughtfully and eloquently. That said, Miranda (Rand) is a difficult narrator to connect with, as she's too preoccupied with living up to the legacy of her dead sister - while simultaneously striving to prove to her parents that she is the 'good girl' - to form her own coherent identity. The decisions she makes relating to her personal life are far from smart, and she often seems much too willing to pretend problems don't exist. At the same time, explanative flashbacks and her dysfunctional family make it impossible not to sympathize with her to a certain extent, and she does mature throughout the novel.

My most significant issue with Tell Me a Secret is that I found it difficult to like any of the people in Rand's life, with the exception of her boss, Shelley. Most of the side characters are callous and transparent, including Rand's parents, boyfriend, and best friend(s). It's not necessarily that they are unrealistic, but that their collective lack of redeeming qualities makes it difficult to be fully invested in the story. It's a testament to Cupala's simple-yet-poignant writing and pacing that I was compelled to continue reading despite these character issues. There were, in fact, a lot of things I liked about Tell Me a Secret. The story kept my attention the entire time, especially during its revelation-propelled latter half, and the ending is suitably bittersweet. I especially loved the art references and how they're integrated into Miranda's character.

Though ostensibly about teenage pregnancy, Tell Me a Secret is equally concerned with self-discovery and dealing with the fallout of a loved one's death. Despite its largely unsympathetic cast, Holly Cupala's debut novel is sensitive, riveting, and well-written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tell Me a Secret is one of those books that takes a mundane, overdone subject (teen pregnancy) and puts a new spin on it. A spin that made Tell Me a Secret not only a page-turner in every right way but a novel that felt so close to reality that it was, at times, hard to read, though at the same time so compelling and well-done that you couldn't help but push yourself through every part.

Miranda was a character who haf made quite a decent amount of bad decisions in the past year varying from loosing friends and replacing them with awful people, to having an intimate relationship with her boyfriend for all the wrong reasons, to landing herself in the situation she was in because of it, leaving her to be someone you definitely did not want to emulate. And while I wanted to shake her on the shoulders for being such a fool at times, I also wanted nothing but the best for her, to give her a huge hug and tell her it was all going to get better and that she was so strong in the decisions revolving her pregnancy. Adding to this, it was interesting to see how her relationship with her bad-girl sister, as well as that sister's death, tied into the plot, since while their relationship was complicated, it was also something sweet because of the way they would always stand up for each other no matter how far apart they grew. Also, I have to say Miranda and Xandar's parents were some of the most selfish I've seen in YA, and I was especially ashamed of the mother's way of dealing with things, though I did enjoy seeing the turn-around both did at the end.

The plot of Tell Me a Secret was fast-paced and made this one story that can easily be read in one long sitting because of the addicting nature it had.
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