Secret me

Angel Jendrick

Book - 2023

"Charlottetown teen Tage seems to have it all: she hangs out with the school's most popular clique and has a handsome boyfriend. She's also living a lie about her sexuality. Wren, a nonbinary schoolmate, has been the victim of bullying by Tage's clique, which leaves Tage racked by guilt because she's always been drawn to Wren. When Tage picks up Wren during a snowstorm and they are forced to spend a night together, their true feelings emerge. With Wren's support, Tage had to decide whether to come out to celebrate herself and her new relationship. This novel deals with the place of sexual and gender identify in a contemporary high school setting. The role of bullying in female peer groups is explored, and so is... how bullying can become a dysfunctional habit to repress a person's true feelings."--

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Subjects
Genres
Queer fiction
Novels
Published
Toronto : James Lorimer and Company Ltd., Publishers 2023.
Language
English
Main Author
Angel Jendrick (author)
Physical Description
166 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN
9781459417250
9781459417182
Contents unavailable.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Tage doesn't like who she is, her popular lifestyle, or her friends. Secretly, she identifies as queer, but worries homophobic queen bee Hayley will find out. As a result, she's dating Ben (whom she doesn't like) and participating in bullying other queer teens. When her breakup with Ben turns into an explosive one, a snowstorm forces her to spend the night at her crush Wren's house. Soon, a secret relationship between the two ensues. Can Tage learn to be herself openly or will her new relationship suffer as a result? Thought-provoking themes of bullying, acceptance, and self-identity have potential, but the novel lacks great execution. With the exception of Wren, Tage and the other characters are one-dimensional. Tage does experience growth and redeems herself in the end, but the story suggests the changes will likely not stick. The layout is dyslexic-friendly with heavy bottom fonts, letter spacing, and white space. Characters are cued white. The book is written at a third grade reading level. VERDICT Overall, the novel likely won't appeal to most striving readers who are interested in LGBTQIA+ books due to poor execution. Recommended only for general library collections where bullying and school stories are in very short supply.--Kira Moody

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A Prince Edward Island teen chooses between popularity and coming out of the closet. Tage doesn't like her popular lifestyle or her friends. She doesn't like her boyfriend, Ben, much either. If she fails to perform as expected, however, she risks letting deeply queerphobic Hayley, leader of their clique, discover that Tage herself is queer. So, Tage is complicit in publicly bullying her secret crush Wren and her fellow cheerleader Rain for being nonbinary. When the pressure gets too much, Tage has an explosive breakup with Ben. A snowstorm leads to her unexpectedly spending the night with Wren--and revealing her feelings to them. A secret relationship ensues between the two, but the cruel actions Tage is forced to commit to fit in socially threaten to drive them apart. The theme of a closeted queer character engaging in oppressive behavior to hide their sexuality has been explored before, and it is not well executed here. Tage engages in bullying her fellow students both on Hayley's orders and her own initiative; while she does experience a vast amount of guilt, her wishy-washy attitude to owning up to her mistakes and committing to change means her final attempt to do better--which comes very late in the story--may only lead to readers wondering if she will backslide once more. Main characters are cued White. An unremarkable novel for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.