Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com
While family and friends are still reeling over the Labor Day car accident that took senior high school student Julia Vernon's life, Colt is trying to figure out how to mourn her loss and the absence of their year-long, secret relationship.
How does he grieve for the girl who was never really his, yet who he knew in a way no one else did? Colt is shocked when, one day at school, Julia's brother hands him a journal detailing the course of their relationship, as he simultaneously relives the past *and* works to move forward.
Intertwined with the present are a series of flashbacks prompted by Julia's diary. We learn the details of their affair, how deeply divided their class/societal divides ran, and how those hostilities culminate among their small town's youth in the aftermath of Julia's demise.
This is a novel for outsiders - and when ultimately stripped of our outward trappings, aren't we all outsiders? Jennifer Hubbard captures the trauma and agony of the achingly grim slowness that is high school with honesty and blistering clarity.
THE SECRET YEAR sharply portrays those years of being torn between who/what others perceive us to be, who we really are, and how hard it can be to reconcile two such seemingly disparate halves of the whole, not to mention the overwhelming sense of impossibility that looms when trying to break free of that social image. And finally, she perfectly renders the pain of first love, the hope that it will be forever, and the heartache of learning it's only the first step into a much larger world.
My Thoughts: Wow. This is my kind of book, right up my alley. I have been wanting to read this one since it was titled Black Mountain Road (I believe that was it). The first time I read the summary I knew I had to read it! We meet Colt who is lower class than Julia. Julia is from Black Mountain Road aka rich people territory. Colt and Julia start to have a secret relationship, meeting every week for talking,making out, etc. Than all of a sudden Julia dies and Colt is left in the aftershock of her death and he can't tell anyone he even knew her since they had the secret relationship. How does one even cope when they can't share their grief with anyone? We meet all their side friends and each one has his/her own story and way they relate to this book. I also loved the journal entries/letters to Colt that Julia had wrote in her diary. This book is intense. At times, I really felt for Colt and other times I hated Julia because she couldn't dump her boyfriend and be seen with Colt out in public.I've heard good and bad reviews on this one, so your either going to love it like me or hate it like others.
Overall: I loved it. I will be reading anything else Jennifer writes. I adored Colt from the beginning. I just felt like I was inside his head from the very first page. Adored this book.