The Secret Year
By: Jennifer R. Hubbard
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.
summary from goodreads.com
My Rating: 3.5/5
I'd been looking forward to this book since it was titled something completely different. The premise of The Secret Year grabs your immediate attention. I've always been attracted to stories that center on forbidden romance and a relationship that is kept secret from everyone but the two people involved. This book is very highly anticipated and with that comes certain expectations that the reader subconsciously makes even before reading a single word. To be completely honest, The Secret Year in many ways was not what I expected it to be. This doesn't necessarily have to be taken negatively seeing as what I wanted and expected may be vastly different from your expectations. I've read countless reviews in which people have stated their absolute love for The Secret Year. In short, we're all different. If you were really looking forward to reading this novel, I still recommend that you do. :)
We'll start off with the positive. Again, the premise is fantastic. I loved the whole underlying theme of secrecy and the fact that Colten has to grieve over someone that nobody knows he was involved with. It was also refreshing to read about such a profound romantic connection and loss through the eyes of a male protagonist. It's different yet similar at the same time. I'm a very big fan of the male voice in YA novels. Although I'm sure mostly females will be drawn to this book, I can definitely see it appealing greatly to males as well.
I liked that we got to learn about Julia through the journal that she leaves behind addressed to Colten. It was nice to know what she was thinking as their relationship progressed. You get one side of the story from Colten and then you also have little mentions here or there from Julia that help illustrate a bigger picture.
I've found when reading reviews on The Secret Year that many people really dislike Julia. After having read this book myself, I can see why that is. Although I don't agree with Julia or necessarily like the way she treated Colten etc, I still really enjoyed her as a character and I appreciate who she was developed to be. Julia was true to who she was from the beginning and in the end, you realize that she'd never really changed throughout the course of her one year spent with Colten. Some may have wanted Julia to make some sudden realization but I never felt that. Like I mentioned above, I liked her as a character and I enjoyed her realism as well as her complexity.
I also really liked Colten. I think he was genuine and authentic and I loved his sarcastic sense of humor.
Now, onto some of the more "negative" aspects. I found this book to be too short. That belief alone is subjective. The only reason I say this is because I felt as if there could have been more elaboration in some areas. I love long descriptive passages and elaborate novels so for me, I felt as if I were left hanging on a few occasions. Another thing is that from the initial beginning, I didn't really believe that Colten cared that Julia was gone nor did I really believe that they had shared this intense connection. There was just something missing that I couldn't quite place my finger on. Towards the end however, I started to come around and their relationship began to take shape. Also, some of the situations in The Secret Year seemed forced to me. An example would be Colten's brother Tom. I don't really see why what occurs with him had to be included when it wasn't really touched or elaborated upon. I felt like it was just there to be there and that was it.
I hope this review wasn't too long or too grueling to read. I really dislike being negative when it comes to books because I know just how much hard work, time and passion goes into each one. After all is said and done, I am still very much looking forward to reading more from Jennifer Hubbard in the future. As I mentioned before, if you've been looking forward to reading The Secret Year, I still recommend that you do. The novel itself contains many redeeming aspects and I know that a lot of you contemporary book lovers will really enjoy it.