This Secret We're Keeping by Rebecca Done
Summary: Seventeen years earlier in 1993, 15-year-old Jessica Hart and her 25-year-old maths teacher Matthew Landley fell in love and engaged in a heartfelt affair. The forbidden couple fell down an emotional landslide as the very reasons they could not be publicly together caused them to trust each other and write a potentially beautiful future for themselves so much sooner than they otherwise would’ve had to. But society has its rules which dictate what can and cannot be known as love and what it thinks should instead be considered only manipulation. A short few months later, their relationship is ended for them in scandal. Now, in the present day, Matthew returns, with his new identity intact and young family who are entirely unaware of the man he used to be. Nonetheless, when he runs into Jessica it seems neither of them can allow themselves to leave the past in the past, especially not with so much to learn from each other about the time they missed. Their lives had moved on, they remain a secret even now, which leaves us to read and wonder will the world ever be ready for them?
Review: I would like to stress that I want people to read this book. I respect Rebecca Done for beginning her career by tackling a subject this serious and doing so in a way that takes you past the reaction you perhaps expect to have and allows you to see into the minds of people who are generalised simply because of the number of years they have been alive in comparison to another. The majority of this book is written wonderfully, using third person to describe Jessica’s point of view in the present, and first person for Matthew’s in the past. You are able to see the depth of the genuine emotion this man feels. Strands of information are masterfully threaded through both tenses, giving us the whole picture gradually, leaving something to be learned right until the end. The only real criticisms I have are that 1) a significant section of the book involves checking in with a secondary character who beyond the effect of one particular chapter I do not see the relevance of and 2) the climax and ending felt abrupt and almost unfinished. I hope to see more from it.
Disclaimer: This book is based on an incredibly controversial topic, a relationship between a teacher and an underage pupil with stressed legal consequences and serious connotations. We ask that if you feel uncomfortable or offended by this that you read no further and check back into our blog for our next post on a new topic. We do not tolerate unpleasant or hateful language towards ourselves, our content, or any other individual/group of people. We are not defending inappropriate, manipulative or dangerous relationships, we are simply supporting people in reading something like this and acknowledging that many people need to look deeper into people’s individual circumstances before they define them as these things. This applies to many walks of life. - Hollie-Anne Douglas
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Hollie-Anne Douglas is an undergraduate student in Creative writing and English at the University of Hull, England. In 2018, she made a New Year's resolution to explore the world of fiction and improve her reading ability more, so she chose to start a bookstagram page called '_real.reviews_'. Since then, she's been welcomed into that beautiful community where she shares her thoughts on her reading journey, writes about authors she adores and has reviewed for, and answers messages from other readers, which she has discovered is a task she loves.
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