Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review #27 The Secret Year

The Secret Year
By Jennifer Hubbard
Publication date: January 7, 2010
My rating: ***1/2

My review:

Colt Morrissey had a year long relationship with Julia Vernon that ended with her tragic death in a car accident. Now he mourns her loss in secret because nobody knew that he was seeing Julia. She was one of the popular rich kids who lived on Black Mountain and she had a boyfriend. Colt lives in the poor area known as the flats. Even though he and Julia came from such different backgrounds, they had a passionate relationship that Julia detailed in her journal through letters and poems she wrote to him. Now that journal has made its way into Colt’s hands as he tries to figure out how to live without Julia and how to deal with the guilt he feels over her death.

The relationship between Colt and Julia is described both through Colt’s thoughts and Julia’s letters to him. While Colt loved Julia in his way it is not clear if she really loved him. At times it seems that their secret relationship was just about the excitement of keeping it a secret and their physical attraction to each other. Julia goes back and forth about breaking up with her boyfriend Austin for Colt. Colt understandably has not been able to express his feelings about Julia’s death. His friends can’t stand the snobby kids from Black Mountain and wouldn’t be able to believe that Colt had a relationship with Julia. Julia’s classmates certainly wouldn’t accept Colt among them. At school, there is a strict line between the haves and the have-nots. There are three people who bridge that gap-Julia (although she kept her relationship with Colt a secret), Kirby, a girl who is neither from Black Mountain or the flats, and Michael Vernon, Julia’s younger brother who gives his sister’s journal to Colt. It is through his reluctant friendship with Michael and Kirby that Colt comes to terms with his loss.

When I first finished the novel I was left feeling a little disappointed. I thought that the book ended too abruptly. After thinking about it and going back and reading through different parts, I changed my mind. There are some things I was disappointed with. I felt that some of the minor characters were quite flat, including Austin. I was also sometimes irritated by the way Colt and Julia behaved at times even though it is very true to their characters. Fortunately, Colt and Julia are both well written characters. Some of the best parts of this novel are the letters that Julia wrote to Colt. The author really does a good job of capturing Julia’s voice and making Colt an authentic flawed character. Colt has grown over the course of the year during which the book takes place and the story leaves us with Colt having some closure. While I would not consider Julia and Colt’s behavior toward each other to be indicative of love, it is true to who they are. Overall I would say that The Secret Year is a moving story of friendship and coming to terms with grief. I look forward to reading more of Jennifer Hubbard’s work.


  1. Thanks for the great review. I had actually forgotten about this book, but you definitely put it on my radar again :)

  2. Aww thanks for the honest review! I'm not so sure about this one. I think I'll give at a chance though :)

  3. I love the cover to this one, and I really liked your review and the summary so I will be adding this one to my wishlist.

  4. Nice review! I've heard a bit about this book but not a lot. I'm glad to hear that it's worth a read.

    from Une Parole

  5. I have this one on my TBR! And can't wait to read it! Good honest review!

  6. I enjoyed this one & at the end wondered if we really knew Julia at all.


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