Open Secrets

Lorimer. (Lorimer SideStreets). Aug. 2021. 160p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781459415904; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781459415881.
Gr 10 Up–Ana is an aspiring teen musician dreaming of stardom with her band. When Gill, a club owner with important connections, begins paying her special attention, she is initially excited for the career opportunity. Amid whispers of past inappropriate behavior and a growing web of secrets, Ana begins to realize that he has been sexually grooming her. After a disturbing incident where she is nearly assaulted, Ana speaks with a reporter whose article helps expose Gill’s pattern of abuse and manipulation toward young women. The book also tackles themes of misogyny and disbelief of victims with the examples of Ana’s bandmates, who believe that women make up accusations for attention. The text is written at a second grade reading level, and features short sentences and quick, readable chapters. While on the longer side for a hi-lo book, the engaging, fast-paced plot dealing with gritty, real-world issues will appeal to striving high school readers.
VERDICT Highlighting the important and under-discussed issue of grooming against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, this novel deftly deals with a difficult and timely topic. Highly recommended for high school hi-lo collections.

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