The Secret Year is another book that has the potential to turn off male readers with its misleading cover. This really isn’t a romantic book, or a book about finding love. It’s a book about secrets (well, I guess at least the title conveys that), and most of all, grief.
Colt, a boy from the poor side of the river, has a very secret, very physical relationship with older rich girl, Julia. When she dies horribly in a car crash, Colt can’t share his loss with anyone.
This novel is quite short. It is taut and emotional. Colt is confused, but determined to maintain Julia’s reputation. But of course, his grief is tangible and overwhelming him. So, when he is approached by Julia’s younger brother, bearing a gift, Colt is both suspicious and eager.
The novel very clearly depicts the huge divide between the privileged and the poorer members of this community. There are other girls interested in Colt and he has to navigate his way through the friendships, the possible relationships, as well as dealing with his family and other friends. There is also Julia’s actual boyfriend to deal with. Colt is sympathetic to readers: loyal, yet torn, strong yet vulnerable.
I very much enjoyed reading Colt’s journey from despair to acceptance as it is very well written, and offers a very different narrative from anything else I have read.
Ignore the cover, and give it a go.