July 10, 2010

Book Blurbs of June, Part II: The Secret Year

So my book blurbs have slowed way down. I realize it's July, but yes, these are books I read in June, so there. And yes, there's only one today, but hey, I do what I can. I'll have one more installment with graphic novels, probably next week, and June will be in the can. Anyway, enjoy!

When I looked at the front of Jennifer Hubbard's debut novel The Secret Year, I fell into my usual pattern of judging books by their covers, and gathered from the swirly script font and the image of a kissing couple fading into a dark background that this book was being marketed to female readers. But once I started reading, I became convinced that this intense tale of guilt and secrets, told in the voice of a teenage guy named Colt, would be just fine as a guy read.

Assuming a teen guy can get over the idea of carrying around a book with a picture of people kissing on it, they'll find that Colt is a relatable, down-to-earth narrator burdened with the death of his "girlfriend" Julia—a relationship nobody even knew he was part of. Julia was a rich girl, living in the fancy estates up on Black Mountain, while Colt was just a kid from the flats without any particular privileges or advantages. When Julia dies in a car accident, Colt is now the only one who knows they even had a relationship, and it's tormenting him. He's trying to cope, but he makes some (realistically) flawed choices along the way. Ultimately, he finds out he's not the only one with secrets, but it isn't an easy road for Colt to figure out how to deal with his own problems, let alone get enough distance to be able to effectively reach out to anyone else.

As a narrator, Colt's voice rang very true. The author writes realistic and vivid guy characters, and has a knack for showing the tension and complex motivations at the heart of relationships, whether they're between friends, lovers, family, allies—or even enemies. Yay for writerjenn!

Buy The Secret Year from an independent bookstore near you!

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