Miranda Mathison’s sister died five years ago, and since then, Miranda (Rand) has never stopped wondering what really happened the night Xanda died. Still, she’s ready to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, she has great friends and a fantastic new boyfriend. All of this changes when she finds out she’s pregnant. Suddenly she has to make the most difficult choices of her life, and she finds that she must face the past to shape her future.
Cupala’s novel focuses mostly on a topic that I believe to be overdone for this audience, but the writing is accomplished and the emotional intensity of the narrative never flags, taking what could be just another book about teen pregnancy to a much more nuanced and satisfying place. Tell Me a Secret is a page-turner. You will be drawn in by the voice. I enjoyed how the past and present intertwine in a way that helps readers to understand Rand’s identity and motivation more deeply. I believed in her reaction to her situation. Xanda was well-developed for a character who existed only in her sister’s memory. She was a real presence. I think it is easy for a novel about teen pregnancy to quickly turn predictable or overdone, but I didn’t feel this with Cupala’s book.
I would have liked to have had more Kamran (love interest / mysteriously wonderful boy character). I think the story could have slowed down in the beginning when they were falling for each other. There could have been even more about their initial bond so that you could believe in the strength of their early relationship a bit more, before things crumbled. *Spoiler* I thought that mom’s reversal at the end stretched believability, since she was a supreme witch from the start. The turnaround was difficult to accept, and seemed too happy-ending-ish to feel right, given the tone of the book to that point.
Small things though, in a story that is sure to satisfy teens for its emotional force and intense subject matter. Tell Me a Secret is about discovering who you are, goodness, betrayal and being true. Join in at readergirlz in August, when it will be the featured title all month long.
Tell Me a Secret is published by Harper Teen.