Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: The Secret Year

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

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?

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I was extremely disappointed by this book. All the reviews I read were basically raving about it, so I expected so much more than I got. I couldn’t tell you a single aspect that I liked, except for the switches between flashbacks and the present, which were seamless and very well done.

Some of the side characters I liked – for example Tom (Colt’s brother) and Michael (Julia’s brother) – but I didn’t like the main characters. Colt was mean and inconsiderate (especially to Syd and Pam) and Julia was extremely self-centered, as she didn’t care how it would affect anyone but her if she stayed with both Austin and Colt. That whole storyline seemed unrealistic – Julia seemed like she wouldn’t care what anyone thought of her but still dated Austin solely for appearances. I don’t think it would have been that big a deal, either, if she had made her relationship with Colt public. This might have made sense had this been historical fiction, but since this story takes place in the present, I don’t really think it would have mattered that much.

The whole feud between Black Mountain kids and kids from the flats seemed silly – as far as I know, nowadays popularity has little to do with how much money you have, and people don’t really care that much – for example, except for my closer friends, I couldn’t tell you what my classmates’ parents do for a living.

I didn’t get the romance between Julia and Colt at all – basically, all they do is have sex. The whole rich-girl/poor-boy relationship seemed corny, especially when Colt talked about all those rich kids are spoiled and stupid and how different Julia is.

I didn’t feel Colt’s grief at all – it all seemed like facts without feelings to me, and it was very flat. Actually, I didn’t only not feel Colt’s grief – I didn’t feel any of his feelings. For example, he never tells or shows us how he feels about his dad being an alcoholic, or about his relationship with Kirby. The sub-plot of Colt’s brother coming out of the closet and his father disowning him (to which Colt didn’t emotionally react, either) was ridiculous and didn’t add anything to the story.

All in all, this is not a book I would recommend. The main idea was good, but it was badly executed and terribly clichéd. There are way better books on dealing with grief.


  1. That sucks that this book wasn't that great I was looking forward to reading it and now that's being kicked off my list.thanks for the honest review!

  2. I too was disappointed by this one. If I recall the whole Julia/Colt relationship was lacking for me. It was just a sexual thing which I get but I wanted there to be more with that. And yes! I had a problem with the subplots as well for the same reasons. They were brought up but never explored and like you said didn't really add much to the story.

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