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Perfectly Secret: The Hidden Lives of Seven Teen Girls
     

Perfectly Secret: The Hidden Lives of Seven Teen Girls

by Susan Musgrave
 

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Seven essays from the heart.

"When I was sixteen years old I had secrets, all right. But my secrets were not exactly my own; they were the secrets of others." So writes Nan Germaine in Perfectly Secret, Susan Musgrave's fourth collection of essays written by women writers about their teenage lives.

Nan remembers the loneliness of enduring her

Overview

Seven essays from the heart.

"When I was sixteen years old I had secrets, all right. But my secrets were not exactly my own; they were the secrets of others." So writes Nan Germaine in Perfectly Secret, Susan Musgrave's fourth collection of essays written by women writers about their teenage lives.

Nan remembers the loneliness of enduring her parent's secret confessions: her mother's unhappiness and her father's infidelity. For Anita Rau Badami, a mad aunt was her hidden shame. Meanwhile, a drunken father meant Lorna Crozier could never invite her friends home. And Cathy Stonehouse, who lived her life in fragments, found her secret self threatened in a not-so-innocent game of Truth or Dare.

Heartfelt, disarmingly honest, at times painful, these essays eloquently capture the reality of adolescent life. Perfectly Secret is a testament to the axiom that life isn't always as it appears.

Editorial Reviews

Resource Links - Joanne de Groot
Each author tells a deeply personal, honest story that will resonate with young adults.
VOYA
In this thin volume of autobiographical essays, women writers revisit their adolescence and the secrets that they kept, many not their own. Although mainly set in 1960s and 1970s Canada, today's teens, no matter their locale, will relate to these heartrending stories. Musgrave is the editor and contributor to three other autobiographical essay collections directed toward female readers, Certain Things About My Mother: Daughters Speak (Annick Press, 2003/VOYA February 2004), Nerves Out Loud: Critical Moments in the Lives of Seven Teen Girls (2001/VOYA February 2002), and You Be Me: Friendship in the Lives of Teen Girls (2002/VOYA December 2002). Along with her own essay about not reporting her best friend's suicidal thoughts, she enlists the help of six other writers. These painfully honest recollections range from Cathy Stonehouse's memories of being sexually abused by her father and Nan Germaine's frustration over being caught in the middle of her parents' secrets and exposing her father's infidelity, to Anita Rau Bademi's embarrassment concerning a mentally disturbed aunt living with her Indian family. Adding breadth to the types of secrets teens keep, other stories include Lorna Cozier's shame-colored love for her alcoholic father, Jamaican-born Kelys Green's acceptance of her parents' view of physical punishment as good parenting, and Almeda Glenn Miller's frustration with her mother's insistence on no family secrets, by taking off the locks on all the doors in their home. Although appropriate as a discussion starter in high school psychology and health classrooms, once found by teens, this collection will not stay on library shelves. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most,marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2004, Annick Press/Firefly, 112p., PLB and Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
—Ruth E. Cox
Children's Literature
Secrets; most have them. Many keep them for others. This book shares the hidden lives of seven people. Each story is told in the voice of the individual secret holder. In "Truth, Dare, Kiss, Command, or Promise: Fragments from a Life," Cathy reveals a painful secret that causes her to develop two distinct personalities. The alternate self is "one who opens her eyes when Cathy closes hers" and can handle knowing terrible things she cannot let herself think about. A young girl thinks her parents hate her in "Unseen, Unheard," so she tries to make herself invisible. She becomes her own secret. "Cherry Pride" tells of keeping a best friend's secret; Delphine wants to commit suicide. Mentally unbalanced Sheela's behavior is the reason her relatives pretend she is not a part of their family in "Mad As Sheela," and the alcoholism of a parent is the skeleton in a young daughter's closet in "Dancing with My Father." Her shame forces her to hide the sadness and "bury it beneath an exterior that has little to do with what is going on at home." "There Will Be No Secrets" is an account of extremes—from a father with too many secrets to a mother with too few. These profiles are presented in a straightforward manner that invites interest, but does not evoke emotion. This may actually be the ideal method for understanding the heavy price of saving face. 2004, Annick Press, Ages 14 up.
—Francine Thomas
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Seven women tell a story about a secret they kept as teens. They write about adultery, alcoholism, mental illness, rape, drug abuse, self-mutilation, and physical and sexual abuse. Collectively, these selections tell young people dealing with any of these issues that they are not alone. Thus, the stories offer reassurance. Taken together, they also lead readers to realize that secrets have tremendous power and enormous emotional costs. Each piece is sensitive, realistic, and well written.-Laurie von Mehren, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brecksville, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seven short memoirs reveal the inner lives of young women and the secrets they hold. "Meet Cathy, my public personality." So begins the first piece by Cathy Stonehouse, in which the speaker introduces readers to the split personality she's created to survive her abusive home life. Other voices chime in: one describes the slow rotting of her parent's marriage that she can see more clearly than they; another remembers the one time her father came through for her-the time that it mattered, when he could have revealed their secret to her entire school. The clarity of voice and benefit of hindsight give these pieces of creative nonfiction an edge over traditional fictional narratives. Short, shocking and far too familiar, they give voice to the sadly common tragedies of teen's lives, while promising a future in which the speakers become strong women and gifted writers. The authors in this Canadian import will be new to US audiences who will hope to see more of them. (Nonfiction. 13+)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781550378641
Publisher:
Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
09/04/2004
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Musgrave is a poet, novelist, children's writer, essayist and columnist. Her previous books include Nerves Out Loud, Certain Things About My Mother, and You Be Me.

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