Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala

**2010 Debut Author Challenge List**
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)

Summary: It's tough living in the shadow of a dead girl. . . 

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda's death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister's world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

When two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears, Miranda is stripped of her former life. She must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister's demons and her own.

My review: Not all of the YA novels I read deal with fantastical worlds and super powers. Some deal with some very heavy situations in a realistic manner. And many of them do a fine job telling their stories. For a debut novel Holly Cupala has created a gripping tale of one young woman's life lost hiding behind the shadows of a charismatic and tough-minded older sister, a sibling she loved and wanted to be like. This sister, Xanda, is a prominent background force in the book--though dead, Miranda still lives as if Xanda is there. Through flashbacks we learn of a family falling apart from the pressure of their secrets and the inability to converse without judging. It is through Miranda's journey--from innocent teen to soon-to-be mom at seventeen--we watch her make mistakes, begin to question what she is told and love freely.

Like other serious topic books, this book can be sad with everything Miranda experiences from living with a dysfunctional mother and overwrought sister, to the trappings set by a conniving best friend, and to the heartbreak associated with losing a boyfriend. But through all of this sadness is where this novel truly shines--with the transformation Miranda goes through while her baby grows inside of her. It is in the powerful scenes Cupala creates: Miranda sees the ultrasound of her baby; the party scene with the poking fairy, and especially the period when she is hospitalized--this book becomes a heart-tugging  page-turner. Cupala's prose is realistic and Miranda is an incredibly insightful teen girl, forced to mature within the confines of her pregnancy. The secondary stories are well thought out and they run seamlessly alongside the main conflict.

Tell Me A Secret is a powerful and highly symbolic novel, hard to put down and not easy to forget. This is a book to read slowly, savor and understand, Just like Miranda, the book is multi-layered and its characters will make you run the gamut of emotions.

Favorite excerpt: There were quite a few so making a decision was not easy. Even though I had to pick two.

"It might have been temporary insanity, but all I could think about was pretending Lexi from the hand poking into me and the mountain of anger rumbling and choking me with its force--at Dylan, for not telling me what the hell he was talking about. At my parents, for the secrets they were keeping. At Xanda, for dying, and for leaving me with the fallout. At Andre, for whatever he did or didn't do to make it so. And most especially at the fairy. The blood pounding in my brain, my stomach still grinding from the smoke and churning with this new threat, and the rage bubbled over with one, singular thought in my mind: How. Dare. You." (Pages 120-121, ARC edition)

"I fumbled through the sketchbook, turning page after page of drawings. I watched his face for a sign of recognition--that he would understand the secrets poured out of my heart and onto the page. But I saw only awe as he drank in the lines of my drawings like he was drinking in pieces of my life." (Page 172)

Rating: ++++

Cover comment: Very appropriate and mysterious. I liked it.

For fans of: Contemporary YA.

Book source: Other Shelf Tours

Reviewed by: Laurie

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