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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Title: Tell Me a Secret
Author: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 6.22.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Teen pregnancy, Relationships, Family, Friendship, Secrets
Pages: 256
Description (from GoodReads):
Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

TELL ME A SECRET is the story of a girl with a tragic past determined to find a hopeful future.

When I picked up TELL ME A SECRET I was expecting a straightforward story about a pregnant teen girl experiencing the issues that immediately jump to my mind: shocked parents, absent boyfriend, and maturity issues. Holly Cupala surprised me though; her debut is so much deeper than that. Miranda endures horrible treatment at the hands of her parents, classmates, and boyfriend, but she remains strong and fights for what she believes is right.

When Miranda first suspects she may be pregnant, she makes the decision to keep it a secret and avoids taking a prenancy test. She waits months to take the test, preferring to live in ignorance rather than face the facts. Though I was angered by Miranda's actions, I could understand why she made those choices. In fact, I've known teen mothers who waited as long as possible before finally taking the test, so I know that it isn't a far fetched idea. I'm thankful that, while Miranda didn't want to see the proof, she still knew, deep down, that she was pregnant and she avoided alcohol and other teratogens that could seriously harm the baby.

The novel is largely about Miranda's pregnancy, but it was her connection and relationship with her sister, Xanda, that I found most compelling. Xanda, and her death, have had an enormous impact on Miranda. Miranda constantly looks to her memories and the Xanda that resides in her mind for guidance. Xanda was definitely not a horrible person, but she also is not the person Miranda idolizes. It was interesting to see the vast differences between Miranda's childhood perceptions of Xanda and who she really was.. the good and the bad.

Holly Cupala proves that she can, and will, tackle difficult material with TELL ME A SECRET - I can't wait to see what she takes on next!

Grade: A- 

Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. I've only heard good things about this book and I really want to read it too! Glad you liked it :)

  2. Her next book is Street Creed, which is (from memory) about a girl who runs away, and finds some kids in a street gang or something? And it's about secrets too, and we get to see how things came to be.

    Hopefully it'll be just as good as TMAS was. :)

  3. Thanks for the review!
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