Four Secrets

Four Secrets

4.6 3
by Margaret Willey
     
 

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"To you the idea to kidnap Chase Dobson might seem like a mistake. But to us... we were just trying to stop him from being so...evil. We just...we had to stop him. No one helps kids like us. Not at my school. We aren't the important kids. We knew it wouldn't stop unless we stopped it ourselves."

Katie, Nate, and Renata had no farther to fall

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Overview

"To you the idea to kidnap Chase Dobson might seem like a mistake. But to us... we were just trying to stop him from being so...evil. We just...we had to stop him. No one helps kids like us. Not at my school. We aren't the important kids. We knew it wouldn't stop unless we stopped it ourselves."

Katie, Nate, and Renata had no farther to fall down the social ladder. But when they hit bottom, they found each other. Together, they wanted to change things. To stop the torment. So they made a plan. One person seemed to have everyone's secrets—and all the power. If they could stop him...

But secrets are complicated, powerful things. They are hard to keep. And even a noble plan to stop a bully can go horribly wrong.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There’s very little that’s expected about Willey’s (A Summer of Silk Moths) novel about secrets and the power in both keeping and releasing them. For starters, the three teenagers at its center are middle school, not high school students. And while the teens—Nate, Katie, and Renata—share their versions of the events surrounding their alleged abduction of a popular jock, a large part of the narrative is dedicated to Greta Shield, a divorced social worker attempting to piece together the truth. Since Nate, Katie, and Renata spend the novel in juvenile detention, the sections focusing on Greta greatly contribute to its forward momentum. Nate and Katie’s perspectives unfold in journal entries they prepare for Greta; Katie tends toward the exclamatory, while Nate writes in a formal, heroic voice that reflects his passion for fantasy literature. For her part, Renata contributes dramatic, almost nightmarish b&w illustrations (not all seen in final form) that keenly demonstrate her powers of observation. An unnecessary nod toward the supernatural is the only off note in what’s otherwise a meticulously detailed and psychologically astute story with the feel of a procedural drama. Ages 12�up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Secrets have power. Before being locked away in juvenile detention, Nate, Renata and Katie make a pact that they will never tell what really happened. They are accused of kidnapping Chase, the local bully, but there is more to the story and all are convinced that telling the truth will do more harm than good. Greta, the social worker is determined to uncover the facts, no matter how much the teenagers refuse to tell. The story is written in four parts—Katie, Nate and Renata tell their stories through journal entries and Greta's side of the story is told from a third-person point of view. Katie's journal flows smoothly and feels natural. Katie sounds like a normal teenager one who has issues, but is doing her best to overcome them. Nate writes his journal in the form of a fantasy novel. Consequently, the writing feels forced and it's difficult to read and understand. Renata's journal entries are told through pictures which is a unique sideline. Greta's sections help tie all the pieces together. The beginning is slow, but the secrets are puzzling enough to be engrossing. The truth is hinted at, but nothing is revealed until the end. At the heart of the story are the effects of bullying and mistreatment. Renata was being teased and her friends concocted a plan to help her. The plan backfired and they now face the consequences of their actions. Threads of alcoholism, sexuality and neglect run heavily through the story. Teenagers could relate to the emotions described, but might question the reality of the scenarios. Books such as Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, more authentically reflect abusive situations. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
VOYA - Deborah L. Dubois
Four secrets, four teens. One is a bully and the other three are victims. Then, Nate, Katie, and Renata decide not to be victims any longer. They kidnap Chase, a star athlete at their middle school and their tormentor. When they are caught and sent to juvenile detention, their social worker assigns them the task of journaling about their crime. They made a pact not to tell anyone what really happened, but through reading their journals, their social worker puzzles out the events that lead them to juvenile detention. Nate’s journal is written in a fantasy style. Renata’s is all drawings. Katie’s is the most coherent and complete, but she makes a fake journal to give to Mrs. Shield. Each chapter in the book is one of the students’ journals, or the social worker’s notes. Each teen’s personality comes through in their writing or drawing. The four secrets revealed are totally unexpected, but they each shape the life of the teen. They all come from dysfunctional families. The social worker really cares for these kids and works overtime trying to help them get ready for their court date. The novel illustrates how bullying and retaliation can get out of hand, and that the consequences are not always what you expect. This novel will make students think, and would be good for discussion. Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8�10—Though Katie, Nate, and Renata are social outcasts, they have a very tight bond. So when big man on campus Chase begins bullying Renata, they kidnap him, and because of their drastic action, they all end up in juvenile detention. Their social worker asks them each to keep a journal, and the novel is made up of their entries as well as an omniscient narrative. Katie writes two journals; in one she tells what actually happened, but the other is blatantly fake, intended for Mrs. Shield. Nate writes a flowery, fantasy-novel version of events. Renata uses her journal as a sketchbook, producing powerful black-and-white illustrations of pivotal moments leading up to her detention. The girls' journals offer great insights into their characters. Nate's high-fantasy language protects him from view until the very end, when the social worker breaks down his walls. The omniscient narrator chapters, though necessary, are jolting after the intimacy of the personal accounts. These kids have never been in trouble before, and their first act of rebellion goes wildly over-the-top in a believable, out-of-control spiral. These middle school kids encounter drugs, alcohol, sexuality, and violence, but Willey sensitively and skillfully reveals not only the details of their drastic act, but also the secrets that the three friends and their victim harbor, secrets that shape who they are and what their futures may be.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Secrets, a renewable resource in tales of suspense, fuel this one. After eighth-graders and best friends Katie and Nate have been shunned by their peers (readers never learn why, and perhaps there is no reason), they find solace in the friendship of their new classmate, Renata. When Chase, a bully from an influential family, and his followers target tiny Renata, the allies hatch a desperate plan to end her victimization. Readers meet the three as juvenile detainees awaiting judgment for kidnapping Chase. The tale unfolds in journal entries (Katie and Nate write; artist Renata draws hers) and partly through the third-person perspective of their sympathetic social worker. Each child is withholding crucial information, and uncovering these secrets takes the entire book. The experienced author manages her complicated plot deftly, but she artificially postpones promised revelations. The longer Willey holds out on readers, the higher their expectations for the payoff. The secrets are indeed big, but their revelation in the final pages feels rushed, leaving readers with unanswered questions. Though bullying is all too common, young readers won't easily identify with these quirky characters. In this page turner, the needs of the plot eclipse realism, warping the presentation of an overworked juvie system, client confidentiality, and a touted LGBTQ element that offers little context. Ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful. (Suspense. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781467716260
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/01/2014
Pages:
277
Sales rank:
704,060
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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