Take Romeo and Juliet Add The Outsiders Mix thoroughlyColt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one, not even Julia's boyfriend, knew They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy He can't mourn Julia openly, and he's tormented that he might have played a part in her death When Julia's journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he?s desperately trying to forget her But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

10 thoughts on “The Secret Year

  1. Annalisa Annalisa says:

    The premise of this book was intriguing. After a year in a secret relationship, Julia dies leaving Colt to mourn her in silence. With all that bottled up grief, it could have been good, but nothing in the book is explored. Hubbard brushes past those first critical six weeks after Julia's death in a few chapters and then continues to skim from scene to scene without delving into anything. The whole book is tell, tell, tell. Even in the last chapter, Colt is summarizing tidbits of his relationship with Julia, things that should have been shown to us the entire novel. Every once in a while, Hubbard included a scene that wasn't a summary of another scene or character, but even then she had to stop often to tell us things she hadn't bothered to show us. Julia's journal excerpts were especially frustrating, just a paragraph here or there of her reiterating her feelings about Colt and her boyfriend, Austin.

    Yeah, Colt spent a year sleeping with a girl who had a boyfriend. (And, as a side note, he slept with his first girlfriend as early as fourteen. And then messes around with a girl he didn't like and almost slept with after Julia died. And then he did start sleeping with someone else, in his room with his parents home as though it were no big deal. Has teenage sex degraded that much?) Colt wasn't set up to be a very sympathetic character which could have opened the door for some in-depth character development, but Hubbard showed me nothing in him. I'm at a loss to describe any of the characters beyond flat cardboard cutouts. I felt nothing for this lost relationship since the only thing described about the relationship was that they had sex and some brief comments that they understood each other but never talked about it. I can't tell you in the end if I liked Colt or not. I don't think I know anything about him.

    I also found the book terribly cliche. The rich girl from the hills and the boy from the flats. They couldn't be seen together because the two sides of town didn't mix. It even had the showdown between the rich and poor ala The Outsiders without any of the charm and depth. At the I disown my gay son scene, I actually laughed out loud at how out-of-the-blue and cliched it was, almost like Hubbard included it for as a gay-acceptance statement. Hubbard tried to use the scene way later in the novel to develop sympathy for Colt as an outsider in a brief scene that once again wasn't very well explored or described.

    I should have quit this book early on. I almost did. The only reason I read it through to the end was that I like Hubbard's agent and was hoping for something in it because of him. Plus, it was a short read. I can't say that it was worth my time though.

  2. Erin Erin says:

    Contemporary A Thon: A new to you author

    Julia and Colt were together for a year but nobody knew it. Then Julia dies in a car accident and Colt is forced to deal with his private grief.

    The Secret Year was (hate to say this, because of the content) enjoyable. It was a quick read and while it dealt with a sad subject, I didn't feel sad reading it. I love books about grief because despite being something everyone on the planet has or will deal with. I don't feel like it gets talked about enough.

    Colt's grief is compounded by the fact that no one in his life knew about his relationship with Julia. The most important part of grief is the ability to talk and share your grief with other people who also loved that person. I'm not an emotional person. I don't talk about my feelings a lot but when someone I love dies I do enjoy telling funny stories about that person. Humor is how I grieve. So the thought of not being able to laugh and joke about my lost loved one, is unimaginable.

    While I did enjoy The Secret Year, I felt that because the book was so short it was lacking in the emotional impact it could have made,192 pages just wasn't enough. So because of that it kinda ended up falling a little flat for me, which is why its more of 3 star read instead of 4.

    If you like short YA reads about grief, than give The Secret Year a try.

  3. Jasprit Jasprit says:

    The Secret Year was a book that had been on my wish list for quite some time so when a friend gave me her book to borrow I was quite ecstatic. But what happened is what’s happening to me with a lot of books lately, I have really high expectations set, once I read the blurb I get really excited thinking this is a totally me book, it’s a book I keep thinking of buying but put off, a lot of my friends had really enjoyed the book so that sets the bar even higher. But once reading The Secret Year all my hopes were dashed, oh why book why did you have to let me down?

    The Secret Year was told from Colt’s perspective (yes I was actually jumping up for joy, a male pov throughout the whole book; I hadn’t read one in so long and I was hoping it would be achy and intense like Adam’s pov in Where She Went). Colt and Julia had been secretly seeing each other for the last year; they had kept it a secret because Julia and Colt were from completely different backgrounds, backgrounds of people who didn’t really get along. Julia was from a privileged background; she lived in a huge house in black mountain neighbourhood and hung out with the popular rich kids at school. Whereas Colt was from the rundown neighbourhood in the flats. Julia and Colt ended up together one day after a chance meeting and ever since haven’t been able to stay away from each other. But to not draw attention to themselves at school they act like they don’t know one another. The only chance they get to meet is on Fridays, everything is like a huge build-up until that day. That day where they can stop pretending and just be together, where they belong, without people gawking at them like Julia’s boyfriend Austin. But then suddenly everything is just taken away in the blink of an eye, Julia’s pronounced dead after a car accident, as their relationship was a secret between two of them Colt can’t even say a proper goodbye at her funeral, mourn her properly or even tell anyone about it, it’s eating him up inside. When his friends bring her up, he has to remain closed off, show no emotion, even though he’s aching and raw with the hurt. But then Julia’s brother Michael hands him a diary, it’s full with lots of entries that Julia had written to him over the course of their relationship. Can Colt cope with her diary? Can he bring himself to read the entries, and finally bring closure to a secret year that was the most intense of his life?

    I’m usually one to stay well away from emotional books, I just can’t cope, afterwards I’m always a snotty mess with puffy eyes, so I was expecting The Secret Year to be a huge emotional rollercoaster. To be honest I did not shed a single tear. Julia’s diary entries were at times heart wrenching and torturous to read, but this book didn’t really move me in the slightest. I expected to feel some sort of emotion but I didn’t.

    I found some of the characters especially Colt lacked depth; he kept on flitting from one person to the other. The blurb strongly gave me the impression that it would be solely based on their secret relationship, but by the middle of the story it kind of fizzled out and the story went down a completely different tangent. One I really didn’t like or could particularly care less about. As the story progressed I found myself further and further drawn away from Colt. The second half of the book really was pointless and just exuded a lot of sighing and eye rolling.

    Even though it pains me to say The Secret Year was a bitter disappointment; I guess I went into it thinking it would evoke some sort of emotions in me, but throughout the book I didn’t feel emotionally involved with the book or any of the characters. This book didn’t even produce the urge of a sniffle. I kept hoping the book would give me something? Anything. The lesson I’ve learnt from reading this book is don’t set my hopes too high because when they’re shattered into a million pieces, all I’m left with is a huge feeling of disappointment and utter annoyance afterwards.

    This review can be found on The Readers Den

  4. Donna Donna says:

    This book is -awesome- I couldn't put it down, I practically had to put toothpicks in my eyes because I didn't want to sleep! I am actually kind of sad that I am done reading it, I might have to read it again!.... =).
    The book was very 'drawing' and actually funny...I loved Colt's humor! and I loved that it was told from him. All the romance type books I read are always told from the women's perspective! Ironically I was just thinking about how I wanted to read a book from a male POV, then I found The Secret Year the next day. It was refreshing to read a book told from the males view! I think more books should be told in the male view like this, gives us women more perspective instead of agreeance I think! =)
    I was shocked how it starts with Julia's death....I thought, jeez, she's already dead, where could this book go... BUT WOW... like I said, I could not put it down!!! and Colt's Character is just really profound, how he was so secret but honest, mature and confused w/o never really losing himself!
    I am almost 31 years old, married, no kids...so I felt almost silly purchasing a young adult book, but as I was walking around the book store, it had caught my eye. I am so glad it did, what a wonderful amazing story. I will be recommending it!
    The only things I would have changed is Kirby to be a little more understanding and I would have liked it to end with him looking up from the river water and seeing Kirby standing there with a half smile and then a thee end ...Something kind of cheesy! =) But the ending was still great! So no complaints!!! KUDOS to Hubbard!!! =)


    ...Okay, so I just went and read some reviews on this book...yes...it is cliche...rich girl misunderstood, had everything but wants the poor, down to earth boy, they connect on a deep level that her and her rich boyfriend do not, whom she is only with because it's convenient and her parents approve... the poor boy falls in-love with the snobby girl cause he got to know all sides of her and keeps everything a secret because of his love for her yadda yadda yah, we heard it all before, but this story really isn't necessarily about that... the twist is, is that Julia dies in the 1st pages of the book...This book is about him trying to hold on to her and trying to mourn her while still trying to keep everything a secret, he's trying to keep everything the same, as if she was still there but he thinks he has moved on...most books of this nature end with one of the guys getting the girl, usually the misfit...this book isn't really like that, no one got the girl...but they realize that had she been alive, the outcome would have been the same!

  5. Aileen Aileen says:

    This book was good, it had situations that many people want while at the same time they think they want but really don't. When you begin this book Colt had been dating a girl named Julia for a year and she had just died, then it goes on to explain how he felt about her, what she felt about him, tons of other things, mainly about his trying to sort out not only his feelings he still had for this dead girl but feelings for others around him, especially when her younger brother gives him her journal about all the nights they shared together. In a way you can both love and hate Colt. You can love him for falling for someone, but hate him for not giving it up, getting past it, moving on, but that's only because we do the same. The best part about this book, is that anyone who has ever loved, or even just liked someone from afar, up close, anything, and lost them somehow, feels the way he does, even if it's just for a moment, and that is what made me like this book.

  6. TinaB TinaB says:

    Perhaps a more fitting title to this novel would have been The Secret Year I had Sex, more sex and more sex and more sex.

    Colt Morrissey has always lived in the flats, while all the rich kids live on Black Mountain, the paths don't associate, its not a big deal to Colt, its just life. That feeling changes during the summer when he begins a secret affair with Julia, a beautiful girl from Black Mountain. Julia has her own life, full of country club parties, friends and a popular boyfriend Austin. Colt has his own life, with friends, working and somewhat messed up parents. The two meet one night down on the river and against everything that makes sense in both their life, they begin to meet secretly on Friday nights for a year. The meetings consist of late night trysts and backseat car romance until Julia is killed in a car accident and Colt is left to grieve alone and handle the misgivings of their relationship.

    Julia's brother Michael learns of the relationship when he discovers notebooks and journals his sister kept and decides quickly to get them out of the house. He shows Colt one particular notebook she had about their time together and asks him to keep it. Slowly over the course of the next year Colt absorbs Julia’s words and flashes back to those long Friday nights and the night that ended it all.

    The tagline reads: Romeo and Juliet meet the Outsiders, that's very misleading, The Outsiders maybe due to the culture/status thing but as far as the romance in this story, it was causal, no strings attached sex. There was no tragic love or even a real commitment, Julia and Colts relationship was built on lies, deceit and sneaking around. I wouldn't equate their romance to Romeo and Juliet, but maybe MTVs 16 and pregnant.

    Colt described in a nutshell was an walking hormone fueled boy with no aspirations, no goals and nothing going on in his life except for what the vagina's in this novel could give him. I had a really hard time feeling sorry for him or any of the characters in this novel, furthermore I had a hard time feeling anything other than annoyed for Julia and Colts backseat of the car relationship and all the idiots who slept with him in the process thinking they were getting a relationship.

    Take away the subplot (white trash people) and minus the gay brother added for family drama you get SEX. Basically that’s really all this book was about, sex, more sex, sex dreams, hopping into bed (er.....cars, tree houses, garages, classrooms, lawn chairs, pools..) with one partner after another and then some more you guessed it, sex. At least we get a few big plugs for condoms- hey boys and girls its ok to have lots and lots of hot sex just make sure to use your big boy condoms when you do so you don't get the herpes.

  7. Jenny / Wondrous Reads Jenny / Wondrous Reads says:

    I was really excited to read The Secret Year, but unfortunately, it just wasn't the book for me. I found it quite difficult to get through, and struggled to form any kind of attachment to the characters. The premise is fantastic, and I can't fault that at all. It's unusual and intriguing, and is the reason I bought the book in the first place. To live with any kind of secret is difficult, but to have a whole year that essentially only exists to two people is unimaginable.

    Hubbard definitely had the idea for a brilliant story, but I personally didn't gel with any of it. I didn't see why Colt and Julia liked each other as, besides sex, they didn't really interact a lot. Their relationship was very much on the physical side, and I didn't think it was enough to explain why these two very different people felt so strongly towards each other. Their chemistry was lacking, and I didn't particularly like either one of them.

    The whole time I was reading this book, I was just waiting for it to go somewhere, for something to happen. I found the pacing too slow, and the story never really got going. I expected Julia's notes to be more interesting, but all she talked about was her boyfriend that she didn't really like, and schools she wanted to go to in the future. There were no revelatory bombshells in her words, which was a shame, as I think that would have turned the book around.

    This is a great example of how reading is subjective. I've read nothing but good reviews of The Secret Year, and I really hope my own dislike of the book won't put anyone off giving it a try. Hubbard has her ideas in the right place, and I think she'll only get better as she continues writing. I'll definitely give her next book a chance, and hopefully I'll like it a bit more than this one.

  8. Thomas Thomas says:

    Julia lived on Black Mountain Road - the place for prestigious and privileged kids. Colt lives in the flats, the home of the less wealthy and less renowned individuals. They have been secretly seeing each other for a year - a year filled with sexual tension and passionate longing. That is until Julia is killed in a car accident right before her senior year, leaving Colt alone and despairing to deal with her death. Julia's younger brother, Michael, leaves Colt with a diary filled with entries addressed to him. Colt hopes that by the time he is done flipping the pages of the secret diary that he will be done coping and ready to move on with his life.

    The Secret Year was a sensual yet sorrowful read. Readers will be mesmerized by the taboo romance between Colt and Julia as he leafs through her diary. The character development of Colt was superb, and people's hearts will ache alongside his as he delves deeper into his feelings about Julia and her death. The side characters were also developed, my favorite being Tom, Colt's older brother.

    While some parts of the plot could have been developed more, The Secret Year was a smoky, somber read about a forbidden romance - somewhat like a modern day Romeo and Juliet. Perfect for a rainy day indoors.

  9. Alyssa Alyssa says:

    Jennifer R. Hubbard sold her first novel, The Secret Year in attempting to creating something beautiful. Her novel focuses on a poor boy that lost something that was never his to begin with – which kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it? – and about the girl he falls in love, a young lady who isn’t as stereotypical as the rest of those rich honeys we’re always hearing about in YA television and books.

    If you think there’s intrigue enough there, wait until you hear the punch line.

    The girl everyone wants to be…is dead.

    Hubbard’s novel has been tagged by many popular reviewers as “emotional,” “heartbreaking,” and “romantic.” It, I guess, was kind of all those things. But I had more than a few problems with it.

    Female YA authors who create male MC’s have to be careful. They know the minds of a teen girl well, having been one themselves, but let’s face it – teenage boys, at seventeen, are a mystery no matter if you’re dating one, sleeping with one, avoiding one or best friends with one. Many female writers can delve into a teen guy’s mind perfectly (Melina Marchetta, Mindi Scott, Gayle Forman,) but many tend to think that guys these days have a one track mind – and their car is running around Sex Lane. I think Hubbard was among the latter.

    Colt was a sex-addict. He was sex craved, and I am not exaggerating. The entire novel, he was contradicting himself!

    “Oh, Julia, how I miss thee!” he’d cry to his mirror. (And then would go out swap spit with a girl he didn’t even like…because it felt good.)

    “Oh, Julia, how could you have gone out with that stupid guy when you were telling me you loved me?!” he’d shout to her journal. (After reading her letters to him, he has a wet dream about her brother’s ex-girlfriend.)

    “Oh, Julia, I love you, you bitch!” he’d murmur to her voice mail. (This, of course, after he remembers something about her that is very, very morally degrading)

    I’m sorry, but with a protagonist like this, it was difficult to really get into this story.

    And how much of this was a story? The letters that were supposed to star in this were far and few between and the rest of this 200-paged book was filled with common activities, too much drinking – I mean, where are the cops in this town?! – and a lot of s.e.x.

    Sex. S-e-x. SEX. You can whisper it, you can scream it, you can bury it or rejoice it. It’s not leaving YA, and frankly, if it’s tastefully delivered, I don’t have a problem with it and sometimes can even enjoy what it brings to the novel. But like in The Secret Year, where, virtually, it’s incorporated in most chapters, most thoughts, and most characters, it loses its sentimentality and wow-factor and je-ne-sais-quoi. Hubbard was going for a love story where her characters met and started their relationship based upon sex, which is fine. What isn’t fine is that only months after Julia’s death, Colt’s messing around with every girl he talks to! Where’s the proof of his love with Julia? Teenage boys are sexual creatures, sure, but the casual sex in this novel is not real nor is it tastefully delivered, despite the poetic bows the scenes were tied in.

    But I did rate this novel three-stars, didn’t I? No matter my rants above, there were redeeming qualities. I liked how very anti-stereotypical Hubbard’s characters were, no matter their sex lives. Julia wasn’t just a pretty face in the fanciest mansion around – she wrote, she wasn’t a bitch, and she actually had good friends. Austin wasn’t even that golden boy, either, that seems so common nowadays – he was flawed and fantastic that way. Even Colt had his moments where I, as a reader, could see what Julia saw in him. He treated his friends and parents like crap, but he could tell when enough was enough when it came to bullshitting them. The concept of this novel, despite its delivery, also entertained me and made my throat clog up when some of the truer, rawer emotion came flitting by.

    I will read Hubbard’s next novel. For a debut, she did alright. But there are a few things that come with practice, just like the dirty deed itself.

    *By the way, I don’t know any guys, no matter what age, that speak and think the way Colt does.

    The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
    Audience: Sex-craved, alcoholic teens 14+
    Rating: 2.5-3/5
    Recommend?: Give it a go.

  10. kari kari says:

    There are quite a few things about this book that are irksome, the biggest being that there is no tension and therefore no resolution. It merely chugs along, but not really accomplishing anything.
    First, the love story between Colt and Julia is a big pile of who cares or to be more accurate, the sex story between Colt and Julia because these two are nothing more than well, I can't even say friends because they aren't, with benefits. They have a chance meeting down at the river on the wrong side of town near where Colt lives and then she comes back and offers a no-strings-attached sex partnership.
    Let me repeat, they aren't friends. At school and pretty well everywhere but the backseat of her fancy car, she ignores him and pretends she doesn't know him. There is no love story.
    After she dies, he is given a journal supposedly written as letters to him and they are just a bunch of her whining about this and that. Again, I didn't feel any love between these two.
    So, she has died and Colt accidentally almost starts something with a friend who is a girl and then does start a new relationship which again seems to be mostly having sex in his bedroom with a parent or two in the other room. Is this normal behavior?
    None of these characters are really anyone to care about. Colt doesn't seem to have any real goals or at least we never get any hint of them beyond getting this girl into bed and actually he doesn't work hard at that.
    There is the coming out of his brother, a rumble between the uppers and the lowers of the high school social classes, but it really all adds up to not much. When the big secret is revealed . . . meh.