Customer Reviews for

The Secret Year

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

strong teen relationship drama

Sixteen years old Colt relaxes in his room when he gets a call from Syd who tells him that Julia Vernon died in a car accident. Neither Syd nor their friends knew that Colt and Julia were secretly seeing one another for the past year. They hid their relationship becau...
Sixteen years old Colt relaxes in his room when he gets a call from Syd who tells him that Julia Vernon died in a car accident. Neither Syd nor their friends knew that Colt and Julia were secretly seeing one another for the past year. They hid their relationship because she was from the Black Mountain country club wealthy set and he was from the dirt poor flats.

Both of them enjoyed sex and being with each other every Friday night, but had to ignore one another in school. Her brother gives Colt Julia's diary because almost every entry involves him, and how much she wanted to be with him; yet also relished being part of the in-crowd even though that meant her public boyfriend was Austen who she did not like. Colt reads the diary and wonders who Julia really was and how will he move on without her as he struggles to get on with his life while grieving in silence.

First love can prove disconcerting under ideal conditions, but when social, economic, race, religious difference also are part of the relationship, it can prove extremely difficult. Colt and Julia had a tough time of it due to the social class differences between them. Readers get to know Julia through the mindset of people like Colt but mostly via her dairy; she was a troubled teen unable to break down her feelings for Colt from her need for social acceptance by her peers. Colt is disturbed by how much he cared for Julia as he has to still conceal his feelings especially his grief as the other man and still find a way to move on. The Secret Year is a strong teen relationship drama.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on November 14, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The premise for this book is what hooked me, and I read it quick

The premise for this book is what hooked me, and I read it quickly, but it just didn't quite live up to my expectations and I really wanted to love it. First off, I think the book was a little to short, its just under 200 pages and there's so much going on with Colt emo...
The premise for this book is what hooked me, and I read it quickly, but it just didn't quite live up to my expectations and I really wanted to love it. First off, I think the book was a little to short, its just under 200 pages and there's so much going on with Colt emotionally, that I wish it could have been longer. Since everything is told from Colt's POV, I felt more emotionally connected to him. The author writes Colt in such an honest and masculine way that even when Colt is being a jerk, he still comes across as a likable guy dealing with a personal lose.

Julia was hard for me to relate to, I thought she came across as selfish and shallow. I could never quite understand why she kept doing some of the things she did. She would say one thing and then do something else, part of this might have to do with the fact that you only ever hear her voice through the journal. I think I might have been able to relate or at least like Julia more, if I could have seen her and Colt's relationship before the accident, instead of getting all of it through Colt's memories and Julia's journal entries.

I really enjoyed the way that Jennifer wrote Colt's relationship with his family, it was very realistic. Most teenage boys keep a lot to themselves, so it didn't surprise me that his parents were oblivious to what was going on with him. I also really liked all the scenes with Colt and his brother, you could tell that they were close, but never really completely open with each other. Some of Colt's friends seemed rather cliche' but Syd, Kirby and Michael were definitely well round character dealing with their own personal issues. I liked how each one of them brought out a different emotional trigger in Colt, that would make him think of Julia. Overall I thought the novel was pretty good, the premise was pretty original and I think that Colt is a very realistic male character. If it wasn't for Julia being so unlikable I think I might have given it a higher rating.

posted by StalkinTheBooks on April 4, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    The book was really funny, but I wish it was longer.

    The book was really funny, but I wish it was longer.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2013

    Good book

    I really liked the book. I wish that it was a little longer and more detailed and like maybe had some chapters told from julias point of view. But it definately was a good book and i would recommend it. Also i didnt really like how the book ended

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  • Posted June 14, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Silence & Secrets

    The only negative thing I can say about this story is that some parts weren't very detailed; I felt that, at times, the main character and others weren't very verbal (other than to swear or curse). I understand the book is called The "Secret" Year, and that it is told in first person, but it wouldn't have hurt for Hubbard to allow the characters to say or reveal a bit more than they did, without giving anything away. On that note, I also feel that this is the kind of book that should be told in multiple first person, rather than just one. Now THAT would have really set this book off! Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed the story. Other than it was a quick read, I could actually envision the characters and what was happening. I feel like it's been a while since I've read a book and was able to do that without having to seriously try.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    The Secret Year

    from Murphy's Library - rated 3 and a half there

    Colt and Julia meets one day, around the bridge close to Colt's house. She's the rich girl from school, he's just the ordinary teenager she usually ignores at school. But for some reason, she sees something different on him that night. They talk-and they have fun together, and soon they can't stop seeing each other. But Julia has a boyfriend-a rich kid, like her, someone her family knows and likes-, and Colt agrees with no string attached, he's perfectly fine with that. He knows there's no room for him on her family, and he can't really see Julia on his family either, so they're doing well with their deal. Nobody knows, not even their best friends, and they keep doing this for an entire year.

    And then Julia dies in a car accident, she's with her best friend, on her way home after a party. Colt hears the news, and he's in shock. She won't meet him at the bridge every Friday night anymore. They won't talk about nothing and everything. She won't pretend to ignore him at school anymore. There's just this empty hole on his chest. And he can't talk to anyone about it.

    Until one day when, at school, Michael, Julia's brother, comes to talk to him. At first, he's not sure exactly what are Michael intentions, but soon the boy starts to talk: he's found a journal between Julia's belongings, a journal with letters she wrote to Colt. He starts to relive his relationship with Julia through her letters-and finds out what she thought about them and what they were through. Would Colt ever get over her?

    I read The Secret Year in a couple of hours, and I finished it with a smile in my lips. At first I thought I wouldn't like it, because this kind of story always brings a moral-that cliché that we're going to be fine, we're going to get over and move on, Colt would probably meet another girl and fall in love with her and be happy. I kinda avoid reading this kind of story, because I loved someone who died in a stupid way like that, he was just starting his life and everything was taken away from him. It's been almost 6 years now, but still hurts-and, to be honest, I think it will hurt forever. Some days it hurts more, some days less, and that's it: life goes on.

    I don't think Colt would ever get over Julia. What they had was just theirs, their relationship was something they kept to both of them, and they were fine with that-most part of the time, at least. But they didn't have the chance to move forward, and she'll always be special to him, some way. Of course, I think he'd fall for another girl and try to be happy, but no one can ever replace Julia on his heart, because of the "what if".

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    Solid Debut

    The basic premise of a boy and a girl from opposite worlds/classes/situations is nothing new, but the way this one plays out certainly is. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. I surprised myself, even, with how much I felt for the main character, Colton. He's intense and desperate and sad, and he's also this regular teen boy living his life. He's not rich or popular or the best looking guy in school, and sex is a part of his life.

    Julie dies (not a spoiler!) and he's stuck with a hole in his life that no one knows exists. Except him. He's left with questions that will never be answered: Would Julia ever have dated him openly? Would their hook-up relationship have faded into nothing eventually? Colt doesn't know and now he never will, and neither will the reader. THE SECRET YEAR follows him as he comes to terms with the aftermath of Julia's death and what's been left behind, and figures out who he wants to be.

    This is a solid debut for Jennifer Hubbard, and I look forward to more books of hers in the future.

    See more of my reviews at StoryboundGirl {dot} com.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2011

    Highly Recommended!!!

    An amazing book with an amazing story line! THis story definatley moved me in an unforgetable way. I would recommend this for teenagers. I am very particular with what i read and i need a book that keeps me on edge wondering whats gonna happen next, and this is definately one of those books! a great twist on a romance! The book had a good pace and never once got boring. It was amazing and i couldnt put it down until it was over. Although wasnt too happy with the ending. Please read you will enjoy it!

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Great Read.

    I loved reading this book. It moves pretty quickly, and keeps you reading. It is a original story, and is not a repeat of other well known romances of young love. The writer really captures the emotions of all the characters without making it boring. I really enjoyed this book, and recommened it.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Secret Year

    I understand how someone could completely hate The Secret Year. Julia could seem like a total b**** because she is demanding of Colt to keep their relationship a secret, there's a lot of sneaking around, and the teens are participating in 'more adult' activities. It didn't seem that way to me. I love books from guy perspectives and 'after' books such as The Secret Year. Still, it just wasn't what I had expected it would be.
    The Secret Year is one of those books you have to pay complete and total attention to; which means reading in a quiet place when you don't have much on your mind. Of course, I'm saying this because that happened to me. I had started writing the review, basically saying how much I wanted to love this book and how sad I was that I didn't, when I decided to give it another chance. So, I locked myself in my room and read the whole book straight through. Overall, I did enjoy this book; but it was hard to understand at times.
    The characters. Oh, how I loved the characters. Colt and Julia were together for a year, a whole year no one else knew about, a year that started as a physical desire and turned into something much more. With Julia gone, Colt has to deal with the emotion and grief her death provoked alone and hidden from the outside world. I just loved Colt. His personality got to me (I admit I developed some sort of a crush on him) and I found myself living inside his head time and time again. Though Julia was dead from the start, she exists within her letters and Colt's memories; where we get to know and understand her. Besides Colt, she is the star of the novel. I really liked her because although she was rich and popular, she wasn't shallow and stupid; instead she wrote brilliant poetry, was really smart, real, and strong.
    The plot of The Secret Year was beautiful and Hubbard's writing was great, but (I'm very sad to say) it didn't outshine the flaws of the story. I found myself disappointed with the ending, as well as a little confused. Despite this, I'm eagerly looking forward to her next novel.

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  • Posted August 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Secret Year

    The Secret year is one book that I enjoyed being on in the secret. Colt for a whole year dated Julia while she was with another guy. Suddenly with her death, Colt not sure how he should react.




    I felt so sad for Colt. He was hurting and yet he could not even show it. He was in pain and was upset over people who were mourning Julia because he felt like they didn't even know her well enough. Colt and Julia did love one another but circumstances didn't allow to share their love with the world. They both were different. Colt was poor while Julia was high class.




    Colt goes on through the year remembering times with Julia. They way they spent their time together hanging out when no one else knew. Jennifer did a great job keeping this book in suspense and by that I mean the reader. While I was reading this, I was dying to know if the secret relationship between Colt and Julia would get out. I won't spoil it, but it was something to read through.




    Jennifer Hubbard's The Secret Year is definitly a great read. I enjoyed being a part of the secret. I love the romance between the two characters. The only thing I did not like was the shortness od the book. I wanted more of the book. More of the relationship between Colt and Julia.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    How do you grieve with no one to talk to?

    This is not quite the novel I expected it to be--but it is the novel I wished it would be. And that's a good, good, thing.

    As the novel opens, Colt has just learned that Julia has died in a car accident right before her senior year was set to begin. It was a stupid, tragic accident, and Colt is horrified. As the title implies, he had had a secret affair with her for a year. She was a wealthy girl in their economically divided town, and he was poor. She had a boyfriend--another rich boy--and she promised to leave him. Both Colt and Julia knew these promises were lies, but they were also necessary.

    This is the story of what happens after Julia's death. Colt is grieving, but he cannot acknowledge it in public. Not even his friends knew of this affair. After school resumes, Julia's brother approaches Colt and gives him a journal of sorts that Julia had been keeping. It was in the form of letters to Colt, although as he realizes, the Colt of these letters is not the same person as he is. Just as Colt had glorified Julia in his mind, she had done the same to him.

    This is the story of moving through grief and finding a life beyond it. It's a story of love and identity and the ways that you can be twisted to conform to your community.

    This is a great story, and I recommend it highly.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

    This was a great debut. It was especially nice to read a story from a male's perspective. I loved the idea of Colt learning about how Julia truly felt from reading her diary, which was basically a bunch of letters written to him. And they way Hubbard portrayed Colt and Julia's "relationship" throughout the novel, made it that much more believable for me.


    Throughout the book, Colt struggles to make sense of the "relationship" he had with Julia, and whether or not to tell someone about it. But the question was: would anyone even believe him? I think Colt was a strong person - being able to keep such a secret for a year and then even after her death. If it were me in his shoes, I would have thrown it in Austin's, Julia's boyfriend, face just to shut him up!


    I definitely recommend reading The Secret Year if you ever get a chance to. It was such a great story.

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    Posted February 23, 2012

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    Posted February 16, 2010

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    Posted February 17, 2010

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    Posted April 15, 2010

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