Secret Me

Lorimer. (Lorimer Real Love). Aug. 2023. 176p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781459417250; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781459417182.
Gr 9 Up–Tage doesn’t like who she is, her popular lifestyle, or her friends. Secretly, she identifies as queer, but worries homophobic queen bee Hayley will find out. As a result, she’s dating Ben (whom she doesn’t like) and participating in bullying other queer teens. When her breakup with Ben turns into an explosive one, a snowstorm forces her to spend the night at her crush Wren’s house. Soon, a secret relationship between the two ensues. Can Tage learn to be herself openly or will her new relationship suffer as a result? Thought-provoking themes of bullying, acceptance, and self-identity have potential, but the novel lacks great execution. With the exception of Wren, Tage and the other characters are one-dimensional. Tage does experience growth and redeems herself in the end, but the story suggests the changes will likely not stick. The layout is dyslexic-friendly with heavy bottom fonts, letter spacing, and white space. Characters are cued white. The book is written at a third grade reading level.
VERDICT Overall, the novel likely won’t appeal to most striving readers who are interested in LGBTQIA+ books due to poor execution. Recommended only for general library collections where bullying and school stories are in very short supply.

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