While family and friends are still reeling over the Labor Day car accident that took senior high school student Julia Vernon's life, Cal Morrissey is trying to figure out how to mourn her loss and the absence of their year long, secret relationship. How does he grieve for the girl who was never really his, yet knew in a way no one else did? Cal is shocked when, one day at school, Julia's brother hands him a journal detailing the course of their relationship, as he simultaneously relives the past *and* works to move forward.
Inter cut with the present are a series flashbacks prompted by Julia's diary. We learn the details of their affair, how deeply divided their class/societal divides ran, and how those hostilities culminate among their small town's youth in the aftermath of Julia's demise.
THE SECRET YEAR is a novel for outsiders and when ultimately stripped of our outward trappings, aren't we all outsiders? Jennifer Hubbard captures the trauma and agony of the achingly grim slowness that is high school with honesty and blistering clarity. THE SECRET YEAR sharply portrays those years of being torn between who/what other perceive us to be, who we really are, and how hard it can be to reconcile two such seemingly disparate halves of the whole, not to mention the overwhelming sense of impossibility that looms when trying to break free of that social image. And finally, she perfectly renders the pain of first love, the hope that it will be forever, and the heart ache of learning it being the first step into a much larger world.
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