Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review - Four Secrets

Four Secrets

By: Margaret Willey
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761385356
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 30, 2013

One day they were leading life on their own terms and the next they found themselves at Ferndale Juvenile Detention center with social worker, Greta Shield, breathing down their necks. Honestly, who wanted to journal about the experience. Lenora Dobson, who was livid and wouldn’t talk about her son, Chase, said to Mrs. Shield, “They are social misfits from dysfunctional families.” Chase was the athletic darling of North Holmes, but also the biggest bully to walk through the doors of any school. Katie Havenga didn’t fancy being in juvie, but they had to find “a way to stop Chase Dobson from hurting Renata.” No one was going to help them now because they weren’t the “important kids.”

Granted, no one would never think that kidnapping Chase and holding him hostage was even remotely kosher, but something had to be done. They kept him at Renata Le Cortez’s house on the ground floor and her mother didn’t even notice. It wasn’t her style. From the day Katie and Nate Wilson met her, she’d become Katie’s “perfect and beautiful friend.” The three of them had created their own perfect little family and had made a pact never to tell what had gone on. Before anything happened, Renata proudly told them that “We’re going to prove something once and for all to all the Chase Dobsons of the world.” She needed their help and would get it. “Are you going to torture me? Like with cigarettes?” Chase Dobson III had asked them that night.

Greta Shield read an “overview of the kidnapping charges and the subsequent arrests” from the police report. There were “riddles and ciphers” in the journals and nothing was adding up. Despite the fact that the three had been separated, they held steadfast to their pact to keep silent. Katie’s journal was little more than a juvie weather report and Renata’s a drawing portfolio. Nate, or Nathaniel as he preferred to be called, had shifted into a "budding fantasy writer." Greta found his entries practically indecipherable. “The Master will destroy me if I do not keep my promises and he will destroy my sisters if they do not also keep their promises.” Something was not adding up, but perhaps Martin Collier, a coach at the school, could help her. Greta couldn’t quite believe they’d kidnapped Chase, but just why were they acting so strangely and what kind of secrets were they harboring? She was running short of time and was breaking boundaries by trying to help them, but could she do it before he Dobsons got their revenge?

This phenomenal take on the secret lives and the lies of four young people was mesmerizing. Initially, the story was somewhat disjointed, something I later felt was a deliberate literary tool to indicate their chaotic lives and situation. There didn’t appear to be any cohesion between the characters when they were first dumped in juvie. Once they recovered from the initial shock, even though separated by walls and time, their characters and purpose grew continually stronger as they merged. They had created a pact “because there is a secret story and it is inside of another secret story.” The kidnapping was not all it appeared to be and, because of the circumstances behind the pact, I discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) that loyalty grows deep among young people. This tale of harbored secrets is a powerful one that young readers can definitely relate to and enjoy.

Quill says: If you want a tale of youthful internal intrigue and a mysterious pact, this is one tale you'll never forget!

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