The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
192 Pages (Paperback)
January 7, 2010
Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.
Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia's boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can't mourn Julia openly, and he's tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia's journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he's desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?
This book was absolutely beautiful. It was fluid and lyrical - like a wave crashing onto you, completely consuming your mind and body in the rush of energy and noise. The book reaches out and grabs your heart, twisting it until you loose your breath and cannot form coherent words.
The Secret Year follows Colt in the aftermath of his lover, Julia's, death. He is overcome with grief, but the worst part is that he cannot show his grief, because to the general public, Julia probably didn't even know him by name. Julia lived on the mountain, she was beautiful, rich and popular. Colt lives in the flats with a dysfunctional family and is not popular at all. It was a Romeo and Juliet story, but no one ever found out, and Romeo kept living.
The Secret Year is what comes after. The grief, how you deal with the pain that never quite fades, and learning to move on.
This was really a book that made you feel. It didn't have the most exciting, action - filled plot, but it didn't need one. It is character driven - focussing on who they are (or were), what they want, and what they do. There are a lot of letters throughout the pages - written to Colt from Julia, but she never intended for him to see them, like a diary. That aspect makes the words so personal and vulnerable that you physically ache out of the pain these characters are facing.
Now I have to say something I have never said before... If anything that I have said makes you roll your eyes, or sounds ridiculous, or boring - don't read this book. Because honestly, you would not be able to give it the respect it deserves and I could not stand someone saying bad things about a novel like this. It becomes so personal to the reader that bashing the book or the author would be extremely hurtful to anyone who read it. You'd be wasting more time than your own.
With that said, if you can relate to what I am saying, or if you want to experience the emotional games this book plays on you, definitely pick it up. It was an extremely quick read - I read it in one sitting. I cannot wait until I have another book by this author in my to-read pile.