Holland has it made: she’s pretty, popular, and she’s got Seth – the most popular boy in school – all to herself. Sounds perfect, huh? Well, we all know what happens to perfect stories: they don’t stay perfect for long.
Perfection, though, depends on your perspective.
Enter Cece Goddard. She’s new at school and Holland can’t help but notice her. Actually, Cece makes it her business to ensure that she’s definitely on Holland’s radar. Cece is beautiful, confident, and much to Cece’s delight, Holland can’t stop thinking about her. Cece makes no attempt to hide the fact that she’s gay and when Cece and Holland start spending time together, people start talking.
When Holland breaks up with Seth, people really start talking and suddenly, no one wants to be Holland’s friend anymore. The talk gets back to Holland’s folks and suddenly Holland finds herself without a home. Life doesn’t seem so perfect anymore. Then Holland realises something very important: her life didn’t feel perfect before, either, because things never felt quite right. Although life is tough now, Holland is strong. And she has the support of an awesome girlfriend to help her though her troubled times.
It’s a sad, but true fact, that more than a handful of gay and lesbian teens experience similar circumstances when they finally decide to come out to their friends and family. Books like Keeping You A Secret offer these people hope: there is a light at the end of the very dark tunnel. Holland’s lesson resonates clearly and I’m sure is one that queer teens everywhere (and adults, for that matter) could relate to: if you’re true to yourself, real happiness will always ensue one way or another.
I long for the day when books containing gross acts of homophobia, like that displayed by Holland’s parents, are a shocking and unacceptable occurrence. While Western society has come a long way in these kinds of matters, we still have a hell of a long way to go.
Julie Anne Peters is a National Book Award Finalist and a gifted writer that has touched the hearts of many.