Tell Me a Secret/Holly Cupala: Reflections

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bad girls are never bad girls to begin with; maybe it's not fair to bullet them bad at all. They are girls who grow up taking risks and diverging, girls who don't trail down expected paths. They leave questions behind, and secrets, always.  They leave parents and sisters and boyfriends.

With her engrossing, fast-moving debut novel, Tell Me a Secret, Holly Cupala (a most cherished readergirlz) pulls back the curtains on the life a so-called "bad girl" named Xanda left behind—the vacancies that erupt, the questions that go unanswered, the growing up that has now been left to Xanda's younger sister, Rand.  Rand is an artist, she's smart, she's a good soul.  She's also pregnant and confused, suddenly running with the wrong crowd, not sure who she can trust, who she can turn to.  High school can savage a girl with self-doubt, and savages abound in this well-drawn cast of characters.  Rand finds allies in the most unexpected places. She learns, too, to trust herself.

Cupala has a terrific knack for capturing the bang and bruise of the high school in-crowd, not to mention the terrible power of gossip.  She keeps her story ratcheting forward but never at the expense of character development.  She delivers, with Tell Me a Secret, a high-octane tale.  It's going to have people talking all summer.


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