It’s tough living in the shadow of a dead girl...
I want to start of by saying this is not a bad review. I am putting that little disclaimer in place because some people might read it as such and I am telling you now to play fair.
Alright, Tell Me A Secret, by Holly Cupala, is a novel about a teenage girl (she is a senior) who has been living in the wake of her sister’s death. Xanda was a wild child, and on some level Miranda wants to be her too, or again, depending on how you look at it. Xanda kept secrets from Miranda, and no one has told the truth about how Xanda died that night; now Miranda has a secret of her own.
She’s pregnant, with her boyfriends baby, the baby is one that she wants, she loves the baby almost immediately and keeps it. So now, everything changes, including the plot.
In my opinion, the book really wasn’t about Miranda and her sister, the secrets, her boyfriend, or her life. It was about the baby all along.
One of the things that didn’t serve Cupala, was that all the relationships are past tense. By page one Xanda is dead, Kamran and Miranda are over, her ex-bff is out of the picture and the new friend is blatantly cheating with Kamran. It’s as if the story that is advertised is already told, when you are getting to know Miranda, she is a good girl, making positive choices to help herself and her baby. She doesn’t look like a bad girl, trying to make Xanda her mirror image. If it had been stressed more that she got pregnant on purpose, that would have been something, but I don’t think that was even the case.
The thing I feel that this book lacked was intrigue and good build-up. With secrets being the cornerstone on which the book is written, I was expecting mind-blowing twists and turns, some deep and fulfilling flashbacks that showed glimpses of the former relationships between Miranda and her sister, Miranda and her boyfriend Kamran, Miranda and her ex-bff. I was expecting that the pregnancy would be kept a big secret, from everyone, maybe even herself, I was expecting secrecy. But everything was sort of blunt.
You turned a page and, oh, Miranda’s parents know she’s pregnant, you turn a page and oh, she’s decided to keep the baby. You flip the page and suddenly Andre is just there, ready to spill his guts about what happened, without any build up, other than, we know it is has been a secret.
I wanted more Andre in particular, I think it would have been something for her to meet up with Andre, all those years later and they shared secrets, and then ended up together when everything was out on the table. From Miranda's first description of Andre I felt the crush vibes. I think that was my favorite secret.
I did love the scenes from the birth onward very much, they felt just right, even if they were more in keeping with a book less about secrets and more about love. Nik and Shelley are my two favorite characters and I love how she was included in the plot; I loved Miranda creating a better alternate reality for her baby on the baby chat website. And Xanda’s Angel was great, like the baby was a gift, see what I’m saying? The book is about the baby, not the pregnancy "secret!"
I read this one very quickly, the pacing is great, and reading it is great, the writing is great, I just think the story and the summary are a bit skewed.
I really felt like when this book was on, it was so on, but when it fell off things just flew by without proper recognition.
Notes on the names: The names of the major characters seemed to revolve around Alexandra, Randa, Andre, Lexi, Xanda, they all had the same mood, so very close to Alexandra, and yet so far. That really set a precedent. I detested, with a white hot fury the way Cupala decided to spell Kamran. I am not a fan of Yoneik spellings, and every time I read his name it sounded like KAM-RAN, two hard syllables in my head. Ai-yai-yai.
Thoughts on the cover: I liked the cover when I saw it, but then after reading the book I felt it continued the theme of: Great Look, Wrong Book. You could argue that the girl is telling the boy a secret, I say, for that shouldn’t she be closer to his ear to stress the point? What I think is that since the book really had nothing to do with Kamran and Miranda, more to do with art and the baby, that the cover should have been like the art assignment Miranda feared. Miranda is assigned an art piece where the two sides of one self over-lap. I think the completed assignment should have been the cover. One picture of her standing center, and then part of that image has been ripped away, revealing a black and white baby bump, make it very Picasso, really artsy, I would have loved that! I hope that Holly holds a re-design the cover contest so I can enter my idea! It’s in black and white, I thought of it first!
I loved the book trailer and voted for it. It’s artsy!
I love Holly’s blog, she is one of the Readergirlz, but I prefer to read her personal blog and comment often, so Holly, if you found your way to this review, please remember, this was not a bad review and I look forward to reading your second book!
Holly has just announced the title of her second book, it's called Don't Breathe A Word and here is the synopsis.
Joy Delamere is suffocating.
From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From delectably dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out.
Joy can take his words—tender words, cruel words—until the night they go too far.
Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe…if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late.
Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.
*** I told Holly that I already felt a kinship to Joy, much more than I did with Miranda. I can't wait for this amazing second novel, I really have every faith it will rock!