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As she begins a very tough last semester of high school, Holland finds herself puzzled about her future and intrigued by a transfer student who wants to start a Lesbigay club at school.
Great. Now I was obligated to rag on her for violating the new dress code. Forget it, I decided. My vote - the only dissenting one in the whole student council - still counted. With me, anyway. People could come to school buck naked for all I cared. It wasn't about clothes.
We slammed our lockers in unison and turned. Her eyes met mine. "Hi," she said, smiling. My stomach fluttered. "Hi," I answered automatically. She was new. Had to be. I would've noticed her. She sauntered away, but not before I caught a glimpse of her T-shirt. It said: imru? Am I what?
She glanced back over her shoulder, the way you do when you know someone's watching. That's when it registered - the rainbow triangle below the message. My eyes dropped. Kept her in sight, though, as she disappeared around the corner. I shifted my attention to my schedule. Brit Lit, calc, U.S. History, then art and econ after lunch. Was I out of my mind? Why was I taking a full load my last semester of high school? Weren't we supposed to revel in this time, embrace our friends, screw around until graduation? At some pivotal point, of course, we'd decide the direction our lives were going to take. A derisive laugh might've escaped my lips. Like I got to decide anything about my life.
I headed down the deserted hallway, clutching my books to my chest. This is insane, I thought. I don't even need the credits. I'd gotten to choose the early track - first class at seven, last class at one -but then I added econ at the last minute so I'd be finishing the day with everyone else. I drew a deep breath - and coughed. Who needed to get stoned before school when you got a free ride from the carpet-cleaning fumes?
Morning was a blur. As I stumbled to lunch, my head reeling from the volume of homework I'd already accumulated, my anxiety mounted. I'd be up till midnight, easy. "Babe!" Seth called across the crowded cafeteria. He loped to the double doorway to meet me. Kiss me. "We're over here." He thumbed toward the vending machines, snaking an arm around my waist and steering me along.
"Hi, Holland. Hey, Seth," a few people greeted us as we weaved between tables. I assumed my oh-so-happy face. Plaster-casted smile. What was wrong with me? I loved school. I couldn't wait to get back after winter break.
"Holland, did you see Mrs. Lucas? She was looking for you," Leah said as she cleared a place beside her for me to sit. "She said to tell you to drop into the career center sometime today." Today, tomorrow, never. Popping the top on a can of Pepsi Twist that Seth had set in front of me, I said to Kirsten across the table, "How was Christmas in Texas?" Leah kicked my shin. Uh-oh.
Kirsten sighed theatrically. "You had to ask." She launched into a psychodrama about how her mother was a raving lunatic the whole two weeks and all they did was scream at each other. Seth split his fries with me and I zoned. He said in my ear, "You want ketchup?" I must've nodded because he got up and left.
Leah and Kirsten began to talk about college - again. Could we get through one whole day without bringing up the subject? Kirsten said, "Mom wants me to commute to Metro Urban and live at home. Like that's going to happen." She rolled her eyes. "All I want to do is graduate and get the hell out of this rat hole." I checked out again. At some point Seth returned with the ketchup and I swabbed a greasy fry through the watery blob. Round and round it goes; where it stops, nobody knows. Seth nudged me. "You okay?"
I glanced up to find everyone staring at me. Was I chanting out loud? Relinquishing my hold on the mutilated fry, I crossed my eyes and said, "I got Arbuthnot for Brit Lit." They all went, "Eeooh." Leah added, "Don't ever be late. She'll ream you out in front of everyone." I grimaced. I hated when teachers did that. "You know," I said, picking up my cheeseburger, "all these anti-bullying policies should apply to teachers. I mean, corporal punishment is illegal." I chomped into my burger and chewed. "Public humiliation," I said with my mouth full, "is a form of psychological abuse." By their bobbing heads, I assumed they all agreed. What were we going to do about it? Nothing. Even though I was president of student council, I felt powerless to effect change of any social significance at our school.
I take that back. We now had a pop machine in the hall. Drawing Level I was, as Seth referred to it, a bullshit class. But I needed to fill time between lunch and econ. As I wandered down the arts wing, feeling totally out of my element, I wondered what mental aberration had possessed me when I chose an art elective. Drawing, no less, which probably required talent. More than doodling in notebooks.
The assigned studio, 212A, had four rows of tables set end-to-end with chairs arranged haphazardly. No semblance of order. I slid into a plasti-seat in the back. My uneasiness grew as I studied the crowd clogging the doorway and milling around the display cases. Not the kind of people I usually associated with - which was okay. I didn't have a problem with diversity. It was just ... I don't know. I felt weird. I decided to drop the class. Maybe add another study hall. I was going to need it.
A man's voice in the hallway herded everyone inside. As people filed across the threshold, I caught sight of her. The baseball cap was gone; now her hair flowed around her shoulders. Her eyes darted across the studio and stopped on me. I wanted to look away, but couldn't. She held me somehow, spellbound. The instructor bustled in and broke the connection. Oh, God. He looked like Einstein on ecstasy. "Just find a seat anywhere," he said to the stragglers. As he turned to write his name on the board, I flipped open a spiral. When I glanced over surreptitiously, she'd slipped into a seat up front. Another girl slid in beside her. I knew that girl -Randi or Brandi. She was on swim team last year for about a week. Right about the time Seth and I hooked up. Brandi.
"I realize you can't read this," the instructor said as he ran a palm over his cotton candy hair, but it says `Jonathan McElwain.' "He was right. His handwriting was gorgeous, all loopy and bold, but you'd need clearer vision than mine to decipher it. I squinted through my contacts - that was an M? He brushed chalk off his hands and added, "You can call me Mackel." I wrote down, Mr. McElwain. Then drew a line through it and printed, Mackel.
"If I want to get paid, I have to turn this in." He flapped a computer printout at us. Hopping onto the desk, he curled cross-legged and uncapped a Flair. "Anderson, Michaela." "Present." A girl at the end of my row raised her hand, and Mackel scratched a checkmark. A few people I did actually know. It's inevitable when you've lived in the same place your whole life. The guy with the serious orange spikes and nostril ring was in my calc class. Winslow Demming. I remembered him from computer science sophomore year, except back then Winslow was a geek. Brilliant, though. And sweet. Another reminder why people shouldn't be judged on appearance.
Mr. McElwain - Mackel - progressed through the list. For some reason I was focusing on the back of the blond girl's head, only half listening for my name. "Cecelia Goddard," Mackel read. Her hand shot up and she said, "It's Cece." I wrote it down. Cecelia Goddard. CC? Cece? Cece, I decided and drew a box around it. "Holland Jaeger." A couple of heads swiveled. "What?" I blinked up. "Holland Jaeger?" "Oh, here." I raised my hand. Added in a mutter, "Apparently not all here."
She twisted around and smiled. My stomach lurched. I shielded my face with my hand and pretended to scribble notes. Mackel handed out a supplies list. It was long. There were pencils, ink, charcoal, erasers, markers, pens, two sizes of drawing tablets. God, I'd have to work a month of overtime to afford all this stuff. Mackel said, "I know it's a short week, but I'd appreciate it if you could get your supplies in the next couple of days. Go to Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart for the best prices. If anyone has real financial need, come see me after class. That doesn't mean you'd rather spend your money on a kegger." He eagle-eyed the room. "But I have a starving artist fund, so don't be shy." I liked that. He was understanding. Maybe I'd wait to drop. At two-fifteen the bell rang and I gathered my books and notes from econ, feeling totally brain-dead. Lockers banged open and closed as I trudged down the hall. "Hi, Holland. Have a good break?" someone called.
"Great, thanks." I waved, plastering on The Smile. Get me out of here, I thought. Static crackled in my head like a radio stuck between stations. The halls began to clear and my locker materialized - finally. As I twisted the combination lock, I heard across the way, "So, you just transferred? Where'd you go before here?"
I opened the door and captured Brandi and Cece in my mirror. Cece said, "Washington Central." Brandi said, "Oh, yeah? Do you know Joanie? She's one of us. Joanie Fowler." "Doesn't sound familiar." "You have to know her."
"I said I don't." The sharpness of Cece's voice made me turn around. Brandi caught my eye and I turned back. In my mirror I watched as Cece shoved a book into her backpack and removed a fleece vest off the hook. She let out a long breath and said, "Sorry," to Brandi. "It's been a rough day."
"I can imagine." Brandi smiled knowingly. I wondered what she knew. Brandi held the backpack while Cece put on her vest. Their conversation muted as a herd of people stampeded past. I caught the tail end of Brandi's " ... go for a Coke or something?" "I can't," Cece said. "I have to work." She retrieved the pack from Brandi and slung it over her shoulder. I realized I was eavesdropping shamelessly and squatted to unzip my swimming duffel. "How come you transferred?" Brandi asked.
"Health reasons." Cece slammed her locker. "My car wouldn't start this morning and I don't really want to wait here for my brother to pick me up. Do you think you could give me a ride to work?"
"Sure," Brandi chirped. "No problem." They headed out together. Brandi had said, "One of us." Did that mean she was gay? Huh. I didn't think we had any gays in our school. Until now. I loaded up my backpack and grabbed my duffel, thinking, I guess it pays to advertise.
Excerpted from Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters Copyright © 2003 by Julie Anne Peters
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The characters were good, the writing was excellent. Would have liked more detail in the relationship. Doesn't have to be explicit sex but I hate books that end a chapter with a peck on the check and the next chapter begins a new day. Where's the relationship, wheres the loving tender moments. A good lesbian book should have a little more than holding hands and hugging. This book may be good for a 6th grader coming out but for an adult I kept waiting for some kind of excitement and romance. I kept thinking the author was building up to it and then all of a sudden the book ended, abruptly, unexpected, many questions left up in the air. I downloaded the ebook version so did not know when the ending was coming and when it came it just felt like a chapter ending, not the end of the book. For these reasons I cannot recommend this book. Want a great read...try Curious Wine by Katherine Forrest.
8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2011
I really enjoyed this book, my only problem was the ending. It leaves you wanting more! I feel like she left us hanging in limbo. Is there a sequel? If not she should really write one!
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2003
Posted August 20, 2013
Posted January 16, 2012
I cant say enough about this book. It is incredible. I have a hard copy and digital so i can always read it. The story of Holland and Cece is an amazing love story for anyone to appreciate. I wish Julie Anne Peters would write a sequel or another book like it.
2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 11, 2013
Omg im broke reading rebiews mad af i dont know but i went to a party and we went drunk anf i kissed my best friend went back to my house and did "it" now i lesbian and i guees were like an item im at her house now and something magicals gonna happen
1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 28, 2013
Posted July 11, 2011
This book is a beautiful lesbian coming out story. It will take your breath away if you are gay, bi, or straight. It makes you cry and laugh and blush along with the characters. Julie Anne Peters is a literary genious. I recommend this to ANYONE who appreciates love in all of its glory.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2008
The second book I've read by Julie Anne Peters, KEEPING YOU A SECRET is another sure-fire winner about the highs and lows of first love, the terror and joy of "coming out", and the good and the bad that is the thing called family. <BR/><BR/>Holland Jaeger is the "It" girl everyone envies--she has great friends, she's President of the Student Body, she's the girlfriend of Seth, she's the popular girl who can be counted on to always get along with everyone. That is, until Cece Goddard transfers in, and Holland's once-perfect life no longer seems so great. <BR/><BR/>The first time she sees Cece, Holland feels something that she's never felt before. Although sexually active with her boyfriend, Seth, having sex is more like a chore--she'd much rather sit around talking, the way they used to do when they were friends rather than lovers. As Cece flaunts her homosexuality, wearing shirts proclaiming herself out and proud, Holland wonders what it means when her attraction to Cece becomes almost an obsession. <BR/><BR/>College looms on the horizon and no one, especially her mother, will quit asking her where she's going. They have big plans for her, you see, both her mother, who became a single parent way too young, Seth, and the career counselor at her school. Forced into a role she doesn't want, Holland escapes into her art class, drawing away from her former friends as feelings and emotions she can't control rush to the surface. <BR/><BR/>As Holland realizes that she is, in fact, a lesbian, her perfect life is suddenly out of control. She's shunned by her former friends at school, her mother kicks her out of the house, she's forced to live in a run-down motel that's now a shelter, and she's not sure she'll be able to attend college at all. <BR/><BR/>Holland must learn what's really important in life, that it's not about being popular but about being true to yourself. As she loses old friends she gains new ones in the gay and lesbian community, and forms a bond with Cece that is beyond her wildest expectations. <BR/><BR/>KEEPING YOU A SECRET is a great, emotional read, pefect for anyone questioning their sexuality or their place in the world. A truly recommended read.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2003
Now that her senior year has arrived, Holland Jaeger finds life is not so simple. Her mother is pressing her to go to law school. This is not Holland¿s dream, however her mother seems intent on living vicariously through Holland¿s life. She wants only the best for Holland. Therefore it is up to Holland to get the best grades, apply to the best schools, and meet everyone¿s expectations. When Holland finds herself attracted to a new student, she realizes she's going to have a very serious problem with her current boyfriend; he's too needy. Since they began having sex, that is all he seems to want to do. The new student, Cece, is an 'out-and-proud' lesbian, and Holland finds herself in the greatest relationship ever. What price will she pay when she decides to follow her heart? KEEPING YOU A SECRET tackles a tough subject in a lighthearted manner. Now there is a lot in this book to which I cannot relate. My parents did not force me to follow their dreams and, as a heterosexual woman, I have no experience with the discrimination that lesbians face. I know when I was in high school there were no gays or lesbians that I knew of. In retrospect now that some of them have ¿come out¿, I am surprised that they did manage to keep it hidden so well, and saddened that they felt they had to hide the essence of who they were. Those issues aside, I found myself intrigued with Julie Anne Peters writing. Her views are honest and handled well. Teen sex is not ignored; instead it is handled honestly with both the pros and cons taken into consideration. Birth control is discussed without being preached. All of these were issues we hated listening to as kids, but they are important nonetheless. I honestly cannot say this book will appeal to every teenager. But I do hope that those with an open mind will read it and take the message to heart. In the end, it's your decisions, the ones that change your life, that are the most important. Tracy Farnsworth
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2014
Posted March 7, 2014
Posted February 12, 2014
Posted January 12, 2014
Posted January 3, 2014
I really enjoyed the book even though I would like a little more detail. The book really helped me since I am bi and i was going through some things and the book really really helped me I just hope that there is more books like these. Lol :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 26, 2013
Posted December 16, 2013
I loved this book. I have to admit I purchased this book, because I, like Holland, the main heroine to our book, was unsure of my sexual orientation. "Unsure of" would be one way of defining how it feels before coming out. I'd chosen this book because I wanted to learn more about me, and hoped maybe reading a book that dealt with the subject of being lesbian or bisexual, would give me somewhere to start my questions or maybe even answer some.
I was not disappointed. I am happy with the book as a whole, the beginning, the uncertainty of the characters, the harsh reality of not being able to find acceptance from some. I really did enjoy everything about this book. And! I did laugh and tear at certain parts of the novel :) A nice bitter chocolate blend :)
I certainly would recommend it to someone who felt like they were in the same shoes as me, so that maybe, this could be the start of a new chapter in your life, or maybe answer some questions you have about yourself.
Posted December 8, 2013
Posted November 24, 2013
What is wrong with you? No, I don't want to be mean. But here it is:
You said we have queer books for teenage girls. Well, a book can't be homosexual. So you mean the girls in the book are homosexual. So, get over it. This world doesn't need people to tell other people who they love is wrong.
Also, take your judgements to someplace else.
Posted August 12, 2013
I like the message it sent. I'm in the same boat, you could say. I just hate the ending. There is a sequel that is needed to this story. It also made me a little emotional. Words can't really describe.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.