Four Secrets

Four Secrets

4.5 4
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


"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)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Margaret Willey has been writing for many years in many different genres. All of her books and stories come from a personal place, either something that happened to her or something she witnessed at close range. Four Secrets is an example of a book that came from something she observed in her own family and then desperately needed to write about. Margaret lives in Grand Haven with her husband Richard Joanisse, and she is currently working on a new young adult novel and a short story collection.

A Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art graduate, Bill Hauser's artwork has graced the record covers, t-shirts, and posters of numerous punk, hardcore, and heavy metal bands from around the world. Inspired by '80s rock and roll artists like Pushead and Richard Corben, Hauser's attention to detail, jagged line work and bright color schemes reflect the chaotic urgency of punk rock gigs.

Bill Hauser is well known in the realm of underground music, having worked with bands like: Ghoul, Bad Religion, ANTiSEEN, Hirax, In Defence, Skit System, BANE, Hellnation and Ozzy Osbourne. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Four Secrets 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
In this day and age, one of the most frightening realities in America is the subject of bullying. In this amazing YA novel, not only has the author gone in-depth on this subject, but does so by offering a mysterious plot, fantastic characters, and a wealth of emotions that will truly leave the reader with something to think about! This is the story of three very close friends who find themselves in juvenile detention because of something bad they did - a kidnapping that may or may not have happened the way the victim claims it did. The story is told by each of these friends putting together their own journals for their social worker to read; a way of providing background into their home lives, their school lives, and perhaps offering a better understanding of what occurred and the things that led up to the supposed crime. Katie is a teenager who was once part of the 'cool' click whose friends dropped her when she took up with people who brought their 'cool clout' down. She befriends a young girl from the south who came to her school the year before, and Katie wants nothing more than to protect her from the true bully of the school who can't seem to leave the girl alone. Nate is Katie's best friend. This is a young man who longs to be a writer and should be, considering he speaks like a Tolkien character and lives in a world that's filled with ideals, strong beliefs, and the strength and courage of knights. Renata is the tiny girl who's being bullied by a seriously angry young man and his jock friends. The boy is the 'King of Popular' - even his parents are the 'best of the best' in the town they live in. The adults play a large part. Renata's parents are a bit on the cold side, basically ignoring her. Katie's mother is a dominant woman who seems to want to live Katie's life for her, and makes sure to tell her daughter when she's hanging out with the wrong crowd. However, she does like Nate - whose family life is not even close to perfect, which is why he spends a great deal of time in his imaginative, creative mind. When these three get together to offer some payback to the bully, they soon find themselves locked up. However...this is not an open-and-shut case. Although the popular boy claims he was kidnapped by the three, there is an actual secret - a pact - that's stopping this trio from telling the truth. All parents should want nothing more than to stop bullying once and for all, and this is one novel that speaks to both parent and teen. Exciting, sad, triumphant and truly realistic all at the same time, this writer explores every facet of what is really going on in our schools nowadays; things that are causing children to commit suicide because they can't deal with the pain and agony of being teased and taunted by others. The writing is remarkable, and being able to spotlight this very dangerous problem while still weaving an unforgettable plot, shows that this is one author with a true gift! Quill Says: Buy this! Now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book "Four Secrets" was a very appealing, suspenseful book. "Four Secrets" is about two eighth grade students, Katie and Nate, who get disowned by their friends, and become each others best friend. With the arrival of a new student, Katie and Nate forms a friendship with the new girl, Renata. When a popular boy named Chase begins bullying Renata, Katie and Nate believe its time to put a stop to Chase because no one else will. The readers meet Katie, Nate, and Renata while they are held in juvenile detention awaiting their judgment for the kidnapping of Chase. The story of the kidnapping unfolds with journal entries from Katie, Nate, and Renata in their own perspective. Their social worker meets with everyone who could have any knowledge of the kidnapping or anyone with knowledge of the kids, unfolding details the juveniles will not reveal. Through the entire book each child is uncovering secrets and giving crucial information. The author, Margaret Willey, carefully manages her comprehensive plot, but she prolongs promised unknown information. The longer the author hides the secrets, the more eager the reader gets to wanting to know the secrets. The secrets revealed throughout the book are most definitely big, and unexpected. The end of the book seemed to be rushed and left the readers with some unanswered questions. In the book it has the common topic of bullying, but for younger readers it may be more difficult to comprehend some things going on in the story. This book is definitely a page turner and hard to put down, it is a greatly recommended book to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buy it now
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book opens up your eyes and says bullying isnt okay Dont let no one put you down because are they reajjy worth it -JH