BFTA Review: Jennifer R Hubbard – The Secret Year


Title: The Secret Year
Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard
Viking (Penguin)
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge

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?

I first saw a review for this over at The Story Siren. Kristi raved about it, and the premise sounded interesting, so I added it to my list of books to eventually get around to reading.
This was one of those books that the premise sounded more interesting than the book itself. At roughly 200 pages long, it was a lot shorter than I was expecting when I requested it from the library, and I breezed through it quickly.
I was expecting a reflection of Colt’s relationship with Julia, but instead what I got was vague reminiscing and a lot about Colt’s new relationships. Whether Colt was to blame for her death was never in question–Julia died from a car accident, and really it was no one’s fault. Did Julia love him? Colt asks himself that maybe once or twice, but it’s definitely not something that he mulls over during the novel. He seems more focused on jumping between reliving his secret affair with Julia (which involves lots of sex) and his new flings, first with his best friend, then with Julia’s brother’s ex-girlfriend, neither of which hang around.
We hardly see any entries in Julia’s diary. Although it was supposed to be written about their fling, it was filled with all kinds of things, including Julia’s promises to break up with her rich boyfriend, Austin. We hardly get to see any entries, and when we do they’re short blurbs, not entire entries, and they leave the reader wanting more, to see more of what was in Julia’s head.
I was a little disappointed in the book. I went into it expecting something great, and came out of it with a lot less. It was good for a quick read, but it lacked the substance that I had expected. Overall, an okay book.

Originally posted 28 January 2011.


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