The Secret Year, by Jennifer Hubbard
Release Date: January 2010
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.
Let me start by saying, I like Jennifer Hubbard’s writing style. It flows well, and you get through it rather quickly. Unfortunately, that’s where my praise for this book ends.
As I sit here mulling over the book, and trying to squash my disappointment in order to keep this review as light as possible, I wonder if I’m so disappointed because I expected so much more. I read many reviews of The Secret Year, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Many people actually RAVED about it. I’m at a loss, because I just don’t get it.
Colt’s story is a sad one. Heartbreaking, really. His journey towards finding himself after the death of his secret girlfriend is a hard one. Still, I should’ve cried, right?! With the circumstances in this book, I feel like I should’ve been emotional, but I wasn’t. At all. Am I just an emotionless stone today? Or was there something missing in the writing that made it connect with me? I don’t know.
The characters felt flat. I understood Colt, his emotions are raw and it shows, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to him. Julia was a confused girl, who ultimately died far too young, but what I saw of her character didn’t make me like her very much.
Many of the scenes seemed misplaced. I felt like some of the things happening in the book were just there to fill the gaps, and I don’t like feeling that way about a scene. I feel like each scene should mean something to the story, but I didn’t feel that with this one.
When the book ended, I felt like I had been robbed of something. This story had great potential, but for me, something was missing.
I’ll be looking for Jennifer Hubbard’s next book, because I feel like she has great potential.
I had initially planned to rank it two stars, but when I thought about, I realized it deserved more than that. The story line kept me in it, and I never once thought about not finishing it. There aren’t any spoilers in there, though I realize this review would probably leave a bad taste in the mouths of some. I can only hope that this will balance out all of those excellent reviews you’ll read elsewhere, then maybe you won’t go in expecting more than you’ll get.