Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: The Secrets We Keep

Publish September 24, 2016

At an end of year school party, Clementine Sanford’s autistic classmate, Kit, dies under mysterious circumstances. When Clem returns to school in the fall, everything has changed. Clem’s best friend, Ellie, is in over her head with a college-aged boyfriend, Clem’s boy-crush, Jake, is hanging around with the “wrong” crowd, rumours continue to circulate about Kit’s death, and Kit’s mother – a hardnosed attorney – is determined to get to the bottom of things. On top of everything else, Clem is certain that she contributed to Kit’s death, and confides her guilty secret to Ellie. But Ellie uses the secret to control Clem and blackmails her into lying to cover for Ellie’s wild escapades. When Ellie’s boyfriend also begins to threaten Clem, she and Jake realize that the only way to escape the mess caused by Kit’s death is to figure out what happened the night of the party. In Deb Loughead’s latest teen novel, The Secrets We Keep, Clem realizes that she is not alone – because everybody has secrets. A nice page-turning mystery, The Secrets We Keep neatly captures the angst and emotion of adolescence, while highlighting the increasing isolation of the digital age. Loughead hits the sweet spot of suspense, dangling carrots to maintain interest and momentum, with an uncanny knowledge for the exact moment when a revelation is necessary. Clem’s voice is not as authentic as it could be, using dated language and rants against technology that often make Clem sound like a preachy parent. Despite this, Loughead’s emphasis on communication and personal interaction should hit home for many teens, and her skillful use of clues and red herrings will engage many a late night reader.

The Secrets We Keep

Deb Loughead
Dundurn Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-459-737-297

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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