Release Date: December 16, 2013
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Recommended by: Livia of Butterfly-O-Meter Books
Genre: Contemporary MYA – LGBT
Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?
Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.
Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.
Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?
I went to an all-girls private school and witnessed first hand some of the things that Jenny O’Connor and Nicola Jackson experienced in SECRET LIES from the standpoint of exploring one’s sexuality. Let me clarify that a bit in case some of you get green, I mean I had friends who are gay and I saw them struggle with the semantics, go through heartbreaks, work out their confusions, and hide it from their parents during this time. Now my friends might not have been bullied or considered freaks in our school but some of my friends’ parents sure would have a conniption if they found out that their darling daughter’s having scissor fantasies with her alleged “bestfriend”. These coupled with adolescence, peer pressure, and keeping up with school can be a challenging on its own and comparing them with Jenny and Nicola, my friends had it easy somewhat.
She [Jenny] was the girl every girl every guy in school fantasized about being with and the girl every other girls desperately longed to be… But she sacrificed a lot for her popularity, more than she dared to admit, and the idea of her friends and others discovering it was aa an act terrified.
Being gay is just the tip of the iceberg in SECRET LIES, Amy Dunne created this perfect storm for her MC’s. Aside from the bullying thanks to ignorance, there’s also a multitude of issues plaguing both Jenny and Nic. Jenny may be the prettiest and most popular kid in school but she has a dark secret of her own, when things get too intense, Jenny cuts herself. On top of this, she drinks, smokes, and medicates herself with the occasional marijuana to cope. Nic is an outsider, a loner, and a victim of physical and verbal abuse thanks to her mother’s good-for-nothing boyfriend. Nic’s back is like a portrait of nightmare, riddled with scars ranging from cigarette burns to various proofs of injury. Jenny and Nic’s personal stories were raw and very emphatic, it was quite easy to put oneself in either of their shoes and imagine what they’re feeling or thinking as they try to survive this phase in their lives.
And maybe I’m in denial or simply naive because I can’t help but be overwhelmed and sometimes shake my head in disbelief over how some people can be so vile as exemplified by the secondary characters! I mean just because someone is different from you doesn’t make them a freak! Like who made these people the epitome of perfections?! And I still don’t understand how someone can physically beat a defenseless person to a pulp just because you don’t like their existence? I know SECRET LIES happens in real life, some situations are even more brutal and even fatal, still it’s a tough pill to swallow, fiction or otherwise.
Jenny and Nic’s story might not be for everyone but it’s still a story worth knowing. I like the way their relationship developed even if it was quite fast. I think the reason why it didn’t come across as insta-love was because it started innocent and real tender, their passion was more protective than insistent and imposing. I liked the realness of SECRET LIES and I recommend it to readers who are fond of reading books riddled with social issues.
Amy was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in philosophy and psychology. After graduating, she worked for a while with vulnerable young people until she moved on to deliver training and educational courses. She is currently in the process of setting up her own speech writing business aptly named, Gift of the Gab. She and her lovely partner Lou celebrated their Civil Partnership at the start of this year. They share a love of Dolly Parton and live with their two gorgeous cats and very naughty puppy.