Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Realistic Fiction/ Romance
Pages: 194 (Paperback)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.
Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?
I consider myself to be very lucky. I won this book and without realizing it, I had this treasure sitting on my shelf for a little longer than a week (thankfully it wasn't any longer than that)! I figured that it would be a quick read, and although it's just shy of 200 pages, the story doesn't feel rushed at all. Hubbard used the perfect pace, letting us get a feel for each of the characters and the lives they live...or the lives they lived.
I love the fact that the narrator is a boy. While I am a girl and I can probably relate more to a female character, I love looking at life from a male's perspective. After all, one of my favorite books is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I don't know how Hubbard does it. It's like she's lived it- seen life, love, and loss through the eyes of a teenage boy.
Colt and Julia are obviously worlds apart, but at the river alone, they can be two completely different people than the ones that everyone else is used to seeing. There's an instant connection between the two and from then on, they met at the river each chance they got. It was their only way to keep their romance a secret, as she was one of the rich kids and he was considered "trash". When an accident involving Julia occurs, Colt can't bring himself to believe it. Even after the funeral, weeks without seeing her at school or the river, it starts to sink in. She's gone. Her journal falls into his hands and one page after another, he soon begins to realize that he won't be able to let her go as easily as he thought.
Reading The Secret Year made me realize that anyone, even those you consider your closest friends, could be hiding an incredible secret. We never really seem to know the people we trust.
I can definitely see where the references to Romeo and Juliet and The Outsiders fit in. Colt's story was touching and it tugs at your heartstrings. I had to catch my breath a few times because I could feel the emotion underneath the words Colt and Julia used to described their passion.
Overall, this story was beautiful. That's as simple as I can put it. In my mind, it's about true love, passion, shame, honesty, and finally recovering after our hearts have been broken. I hope to read more books like this in the future.
The Secret Year definitely deserves 5 out of 5 from me.