Combining the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet with the tension and turf wars of The Outsiders, Jennifer R. Hubbard creates an unforgettable debut novel about love, loss, adn the freedom that comes with figuring out who you really are. (Taken from back cover)
I thought that The Secret Year was very good. It was short, but I was able to get sucked into the story really easily. I liked that it was an unconventional love story, mainly because the love interest wasn't alive for the book. We see Julia in flashbacks and read her thoughts and feelings in her diary, but the reader is still kept at a distance, which I liked. I was able to learn about Julia, while still recognizing that she was absent from the story. I also like the Romeo and Juliet theme and how the two groups (rich and poor) were always at each other throats. Though I'm not sure what town has such a difference in wealth and income, but it made for a good book.
As for the characters: I really liked Colt. It was different reading a "romance" from a boy's point-of-view, but I enjoyed the differences. Colt wasn't as sappy as you'd expect a girl to be, but you could still feel his pain and grief. He was a smart aleck, but it made the book so funny. Julia, the other main characters even though she's technically not alive, was on the fence for me. I started out liking her and being intrigued by her actions. But by the end, I thought she was mean and actually kind of selfish. There were times that she treated Colt like crap, and I think he deserved much better. Overall, though, I enjoyed The Secret Year, and thought that it put a unique twist on the Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story theme.
8 out of 10.