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Seven for a Secret

Seven for a Secret

by Mary C. Sheppard

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In Newfoundland’s Cook’s Cove, summers are short but sweet. Fifteen-year-old Melinda is looking forward to two idyllic months of garden parties and socials with her cousins Rebecca and Kate.
Rebecca’s the goody, goody homemaker, well trained by her strict and formidable mother, Grace. Studious Kate is determined not to let a boyfriend get in


In Newfoundland’s Cook’s Cove, summers are short but sweet. Fifteen-year-old Melinda is looking forward to two idyllic months of garden parties and socials with her cousins Rebecca and Kate.
Rebecca’s the goody, goody homemaker, well trained by her strict and formidable mother, Grace. Studious Kate is determined not to let a boyfriend get in the way of her plans for the future. Then there’s outspoken, scandalous Melinda with her smoking and drinking and sneaking off with her boyfriend, with whom she is tempted to do "dangerous things down behind the fish shack." The girls are like sisters and nothing can ever come between them.
But when a stranger comes to the village and invites Rebecca to go to Boston to develop her artistic talent, the cousins are suddenly exposed to the possibilities and dreams of the outside world.
Aunt Grace however forbids Rebecca to leave. The question is why and impetuous Melinda leads the crusade to find out. The discovery brings her face to face with desperately difficult choices as she finds that she herself has become the keeper of the family secrets.

Editorial Reviews

This is a year of big changes for Rebecca, Melinda and Kate. Every summer their big city cousin, Kate, visits the small Newfoundland Island known as Cook's Cove. This summer, as they all approach their 16th and 17th birthdays, life gets complicated and almost out of control. Between the usual teenage banter about boys, lipstick and school, a stranger appears on the island and upsets the easy flow of their lives. He notices Rebecca's outstanding artistic talent and is willing to give her the opportunity to study in a fine Boston school. The complications from this offer are far reaching as secrets begin to surface from the past. Told in Melinda's quaint island voice, all the characters, most especially the women, are vividly drawn. Mothers and aunts, through the generations, have been strong and enduring. They are women who have put up with drunken abuse and sacrifices that have no words. When Rebecca's birth certificate reveals a different birth date and a man's name that is not her father's, it is time to confront some of these secrets. Melinda's mother, at 34, is old beyond her years and has had her reasons for not letting Melinda know that her father was abusive. Aunt Grace, Rebecca's mother, lets Melinda know, after a great tragedy, the truth behind the birth certificate. Melinda, at 16, is pregnant and preparing for marriage to her long-time boyfriend, Matt. On Cook's Cove in 1960, it is not unusual for girls to marry while in their teens. Still, she will strive to finish high school. In the end all the girls come to the conclusion, even Kate, that there's really no place like home. This is an excellent and fast-moving story, but there are some sexual situations here that might alarmsome younger YA readers. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Groundwood, dist. by Publishers Group West, 189p., Tibbetts
Fifteen-year-old cousins Melinda, Kate, and Rebecca have been looking forward to another summer of garden parties and gossip in the coastal town of Cook's Cove, Newfoundland. They are about to discover, however, just how little they actually have to look forward to in life as residents of this isolated fishing village. In the late 1950s, girls in Cook's Cove seldom escape an early marriage, rarely finish high school, and often suffer from their husband's abuse and alcoholism. Leaving for good is not so easy either, as an unfolding family story reveals. Summer's end finds all three girls falling prey to the small town's tradition in varying degrees, but as the story concludes, the first road connecting Cook's Cove to the outside world opens, metaphorically offering escape. Sheppard has written an engaging and accurate description of the difficult existence many women live by default. Despite the dust jacket's cheerful artwork and upbeat synopsis, this novel is not an innocuous mystery for preteens. Events are sometimes disturbing, and the ending is bittersweet at best. Melinda's grandmother, aunt, and mother have made the best of lives filled with tragedy, heartache, and disappointment, and readers are led to believe that Melinda will also. Her only consolation resides in the hope that her own daughter will escape Cook's Cove. This book might serve as an eye-opener for young women unwittingly on the verge of life-determining decisions. VOYA CODES:4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses;Broad general YA appeal;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 189p, $15.95. Ages 12 to 18.Reviewer:James Blasingame—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-A small coastal village in Newfoundland is the setting for this story of three cousins. It is 1960, but it seems infinitely earlier in this isolated place that still lacks electricity. Melinda, Rebecca, and Kate are separated by only seven months in age. The summer proves to be pivotal for each of them; they begin to make decisions about their futures as they near their last year of high school. When a road connecting Cook's Cove to the outside world is begun, it also marks the end of an era in the village. Life is at once harsh and joyful. Fishing and working in the fish plant are the main occupations. Many families have lost their men to the sea. One form of entertainment is socializing, church activities, and parties; gossip is another; and romances, too-early pregnancies, and even failure to have your laundry on the line by 9:00 a.m. are fair topics for consideration. Early in the summer a stranger arrives at a garden party and observes Rebecca's talent for drawing. His subsequent invitation to her to come to Boston for an art course becomes the catalyst for the changes that take place. This descriptive story details the love and sense of community that make life in the village less difficult. However, it may need a booktalk to get readers past the dialect.-Sylvia V. Meisner, Greensboro Montessori School, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Groundwood Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Product dimensions:
4.26(w) x 7.16(h) x 0.41(d)
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

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