Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Four Secrets by Margaret Willey

Four Secrets
Well, now, that looks interesting on a white background. I like it.
And, I liked the book.
"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.
That suspenseful set-up does not disappoint. What happened - the torment of the bully, the plot to do something about it, and what went wrong from there - is told in not just the voices of the three students involved, but from the perspective of the social worker trying to make sense of it all. Stories written this way, in alternating chapters, are not at all new, but some authors do it better than others. Willey has no difficulty giving each character his or her own voice and personality, and manages the disparity between what the omniscient reader knows, and what the social worker has not been privy to.
The characters are quirky, and may not appeal to every reader, but I think those who do connect with them will do so with a passion. Several secrets are revealed throughout the book, many not until the final chapter. That makes the ending more of an information dump than a conclusion, but young readers will be happy to have all the juicy details at last.

This is billed as a younger YA book, but it has more of a middle grade feel to me. I would recommend it for both middle and high school libraries. Thank-you to Carolrhoda (Lerner) for the review copy.

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