There’s something magical about a book that has the ability to transport you away from your world and into its very own. That’s exactly what happened in the short time it took me to read The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard.
The book follows the story of Colt Morrissey, in the aftermath of his ill-fated secret romance with the lovely Julia Vernon. Colt and Julia came from different worlds, but they fell in love and for an entire year had a secret romance, unbeknownst to their friends, families, or significant others. When Julia is killed, Colt suddenly finds himself lost. That feeling of floundering only increases when he is handed her journal, chronicling the year of their secret romance. His relationship with Julia changed Colt — and The Secret Year follows him as he tries to come to terms with her death, the person she was, and the person he wants to be.
Sad and romantic, without being sappy or saccharine, The Secret Year is a haunting tale about interesting characters, set in a place that is both unique and universal. We never really know where this story takes place — it could be Anywhere, U.S.A. — but Hubbard writes it in such a way, that we can all relate to this world. We’ve all had a Black Mountain Road, where the rich kids live; a bridge for secret meetings; a backyard where we can gather with our friends or sit alone and think. We all have families with issues and friends who aren’t always the best influences and relationships that stutter and falter and fail.
The Secret Year isn’t just about a romance between Colt and Julia, either. It’s about the other people in our lives who shape our world and influence who we are. Our parents and siblings; our friends and lovers. Our enemies and acquaintances. It’s all of these elements layered together which make The Secret Year such a successful novel.
Hubbard’s writing will sweep you away to this place that is both new and familiar. More than anything else, The Secret Year is a fascinating study in character, grounded and inspired by the setting in which it takes place.
The Secret Year was released in paperback earlier this year, and is available in stores.