Review Blog

Nov 07 2017

The secrets we share by Nova Weetman

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UQP, 2017. ISBN 9780702259784
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: High school. Friendship. Depression. Fire. Beginning high school in the coming weeks, Clem and her friends Ellie and Bridge are concerned about what to wear, who they will share classes with and how they will cope with year seven in such a different place. They spend time together in these last few days, Ellie coming in as a new friend and so altering the long term relationship between Bridge and Clem, while finding that the two girls will be in the same home group, while Clem is by herself, puts a further wedge between them. But Clem has a secret. Her mother, Sarah, suffering from depression has returned home after some months in care. They live in a tiny flat, waiting for their new house to be built replacing their home which was burnt down twelve months before after Mum left a candle burning.
Sarah's return means a recollection of past events, a change to the easygoing single parent her father had become, a tension filling the flat that was not there before.
Upstairs, Maggie has become a fast friend, one to whom Clem can turn for help, but now she has her nephew, Matt staying, and he has a secret too. Matt and Clem find common ground, Matt is a roofhopper and introduces Clem into his world, while Clem runs when things become too hard to unravel, pounding away until she can forget her fears.
Insight into the effects of depression on a family is well presented as Clem must deal with the very real anxiety of having an ill parent, one who is prickly but trying hard to repair their relationship. The situation is well handled, exposing the tension on all sides, the fear they all have that things will not go as well as they hope, exploring the relationship Clem has with her friends, who are kept in the dark.
A sequel to the 2017 CBCA Notable listed book, The secrets we keep (2016) this novel will be eagerly read by those following Clem's story and those taking it up as a stand alone novel. It is an involving story, taking the reader down unexpected roads.
Fran Knight

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