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Keeping You a Secret    by Julie Anne Peters order for
Keeping You a Secret
by Julie Anne Peters
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Keeping You a Secret is the sensitively written story (aimed at older teens) of a young woman's awakening to her sexual orientation. Holland seems to have it all - gorgeous, an athlete, and brilliant in school, she's also the President of the Student Council and paired with another popular student leader, Seth.

But Holland feels smothered by Seth and by her controlling mother, and distanced from old friends. Expectations seem to rule her life. Then Cece, a new girl in school and Holland's classmate in art, appears on the scene and Holland feels as if she is 'teetering on the brink of a precipice'. Cece is out, proud of it, and wants to start a gay club in the school. This arouses some nasty reactions, and Holland begins to see prejudice and hate in her classmates.

As Holland's feelings for Cece develop, she starts to feel that she is 'Running out of tomorrows'. She experiences the pain and the joy of a secret love, and when it's discovered she does indeed fall off a precipice, and loses her 'sense of belonging'. But Cece is there for Holland, telling her 'You're a normal person and a beautiful person and you should be proud of who you are.' Old friends also show their true colors, some supportive and some not.

Keeping You a Secret is more than simply a story of a young woman discovering that she is a lesbian. It's also about the damage that keeping secrets can do to all concerned, and it speaks of moving out of the circle of other people's expectations to find one's own dreams.

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