Keeping You a Secret

Julie Anne Peters
With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden's classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of young love.


Reviewed: 2021-10-12
Author: Julie Anne Peters Published: 2003 Format: paperback Pages: 250 Possible spoilers. I finished this early this morning and have been trying all day to figure out what to say about it. It was... all right. I didn't hate it, but definitely didn't love it. The protagonist Holland Jaeger...she got kind of a raw deal. She was the product of a teen pregnancy. Her mother was kicked out of her home, forced to quit school and raise a child on her own. I think Holland was made to suffer some of her mother's bitterness. She practically ran Holland's life, planning her future, going through her personal belongings, the whole nine yards. Later in life when Holland's mother meets a nice man, marries and has a baby, she let's slip that she wished she had waited to have Holland. She thought she would have been a better mother. She thought she would have wanted her. For realsies?! How do you tell your child you didn't want her and think it's just causal conversation? Holland is in her senior year of high school and is completely over extending between classes, extracurriculars, work, and trying to live her life for her mother instead of herself. She's struggling to even spend time with her friends and boyfriend of a year, Seth. It's obvious from almost the beginning of the book that the shiney-newness of Seth had worn off, but Holland was too clueless to see things for what the were. And she was busy applying to colleges she knew she couldn't get into (and got rejected from) to please her mother's need to live vicariously through her. Enter CeCe, a transfer student who is gay, out, and immediately caught Holland's attention. Holland was drawn to her. After several encounters she finally realized that she's attracted to CeCe and that it wasn't the first girl she'd crushed on. She never thought about it meaning she was gay until she was faced with out and proud CeCe. After breaking up with Seth and crushing his fragile boy heart, she and CeCe started seeing one another, but CeCe insisted that they keep it secret, claiming to want to protect Holland from the hate and bigotry she faced daily. But of course, as it always does, it came out that Holland was gay and dating CeCe. Seth was angry, one of her best friends, Kristen, turned out to be a total bigot, and her other best friend was just hurt that Holland had ditched her with no explanation. And of course her mother lost the plot and did exactly what her parents had done to her, she kicked her daughter out. Holland's life fell into a shambles, all because she fell for CeCe. But not really. CeCe confessed to betraying Holland by suppressing her right to out herself--which was seven kinds of effed up--all because she was being selfish. CeCe had previously helped her first love come out and once she did the girl became a whole new person. She became confident and vibrant and bold and eventually fell for someone else and effectively cheated on CeCe. This was what CeCe didn't want to happen with Holland, so she suppressed her. Holland agreed that it was a betrayal, but at the same time, Holland agreed to the secret. So it's just as much her fault, and honestly, nothing would have changed her mother's reaction. I didn't like CeCe. I didn't like Seth, or Kristen even before we found out she was a bigot. I hated Holland's mother and CeCe's mother. And I hated the choices Holland made, and the choices she allowed to be made on her behalf. If she was old enough to purchase her own vehicle and have car payment and work, she was old enough to make her own decisions about college, especially since was was either relying on scholarships or paying for it herself. Her mother had no right, and while I know it's hard to go against your parents when you're dependent on them for everything (leaglly and financially) at some point you have to say this is my life not yours. The best thing Holland did was walk out on her mother when she attempted a half-assed, bull-crap reconciliation. Her mother hadn't planned to change, understand or accept Holland for anything other than what she wanted her to be. And just as her mother never forgave or reconciled with her parents, I believe the same was true for Holland. This book just wasn't it for me.
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