Four Secrets

(Author) (Illustrator)

Product Details

$17.95  $16.69
Carolrhoda Lab (R)
Publish Date
5.6 X 7.6 X 1.1 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Margaret Willey has been writing for many years in many different genres. All of her books and stories come from a personal place, either something that happened to her or something she witnessed at close range. Like her previous novel from Carolrhoda Lab, Four Secrets (2012), Beetle Boy is about bullying, but a different kind of bullying--the kind inflicted on children by their parents. Beetle Boy was inspired by a real boy who was completely under his father's control and trying to make the best of it until he could escape. Margaret lives in Grand Haven with her husband, Richard Joanisse, and she is currently working on a new novel and a collection of essays about her childhood in Michigan.
A Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art graduate, Bill Hauser's artwork has graced the record covers, t-shirts, and posters of numerous punk, hardcore, and heavy metal bands from around the world. Inspired by '80s rock and roll artists like Pushead and Richard Corben, Hauser's attention to detail, jagged line work and bright color schemes reflect the chaotic urgency of punk rock gigs. Bill Hauser is well known in the realm of underground music, having worked with bands like: Ghoul, Bad Religion, ANTiSEEN, Hirax, In Defence, Skit System, BANE, Hellnation and Ozzy Osbourne. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.


"Four secrets? Feels more like 400. This mystery twists like kudzu, creeping ever closer to truths that, as readers, we both need to know and are afraid of finding out. Katie, Nate, and Renata are three junior high school friends locked up in juvie after being found guilty of kidnapping the class bully, Chase. Their stories are told in nonsequential, piecemeal fashion via journals for their social worker, Greta Shield. It's a potential overload of information that Willey navigates with clarity and aplomb: Katie has two diaries, one for Mrs. Shield and a secret one filled with screenplay-style dialogue; Renata communicates only in skewed, nightmarish drawings; and Nate tells his story as if it were a Tolkienesque fantasy. This last gambit is risky but reveals the tale's mythic quality. In Nate's version he is 'Nathaniel of Greymount, ' juvie is 'the Place of Contrition, ' and Chase is 'the Master of Contortions.' Gradually Greta Shield emerges as the protagonist, obsessed with digging up the truth. If Chase wasn't really kidnapped, then why are all four kids sticking to their stories? Low on visceral detail but rich in unique voices, Willey's story masterfully teases out information until the final pages--and the ultimate revelations are well worth the torture." --starred, Booklist

-- (10/1/2012 12:00:00 AM)

"Though Katie, Nate, and Renata are social outcasts, they have a very tight bond. So when big man on campus Chase begins bullying Renata, they kidnap him, and because of their drastic action, they all end up in juvenile detention. Their social worker asks them each to keep a journal, and the novel is made up of their entries as well as an omniscient narrative. Katie writes two journals; in one she tells what actually happened, but the other is blatantly fake, intended for Mrs. Shield. Nate writes a flowery, fantasy-novel version of events. Renata uses her journal as a sketchbook, producing powerful black-and-white illustrations of pivotal moments leading up to her detention. The girls' journals offer great insights into their characters. Nate's high-fantasy language protects him from view until the very end, when the social worker breaks down his walls. The omniscient narrator chapters, though necessary, are jolting after the intimacy of the personal accounts. These kids have never been in trouble before, and their first act of rebellion goes wildly over-the-top in a believable, out-of-control spiral. These middle school kids encounter drugs, alcohol, sexuality, and violence, but Willey sensitively and skillfully reveals not only the details of their drastic act, but also the secrets that the three friends and their victim harbor, secrets that shape who they are and what their futures may be." --School Library Journal

-- (12/1/2012 12:00:00 AM)

"Four secrets, four teens. One is a bully and the other three are victims. Then, Nate, Katie, and Renata decide not to be victims any longer. They kidnap Chase, a star athlete at their middle school and their tormentor. When they are caught and sent to juvenile detention, their social worker assigns them the task of journaling about their crime. They made a pact not to tell anyone what really happened, but through reading their journals, their social worker puzzles out the events that lead them to juvenile detention. Nate's journal is written in a fantasy style. Renata's is all drawings. Katie's is the most coherent and complete, but she makes a fake journal to give to Mrs. Shield.
"Each chapter in the book is one of the students' journals, or the social worker's notes. Each teen's personality comes through in their writing or drawing. The four secrets revealed are totally unexpected, but they each shape the life of the teen. They all come from dysfunctional families. The social worker really cares for these kids and works overtime trying to help them get ready for their court date. The novel illustrates how bullying and retaliation can get out of hand, and that the consequences are not always what you expect. This novel will make students think, and would be good for discussion." --VOYA

-- (12/1/2012 12:00:00 AM)

"Three junior-high students, good kids all, are being held in juvie after being accused of kidnapping and drugging their school's star jock. It becomes clear early on in this page-turner that Nate, Katie, and Renata have made a pact not to tell what really happened the week Chase was hidden in Renata's house, and despite the journals social worker Greta requires them to write for her, they don't. Katie keeps two journals (only one of which she shares with Greta); Nate's entries are written obliquely, in high-fantasy prose à la Christopher Paolini; Renata will only draw pictures. From these oblique and suspect accounts, readers will piece the real story together along with Greta, who does some detective work of her own. 'There is a secret story and it is inside of another secret story and that one is inside of another secret story, ' writes Katie, and the four secrets, one about each of the teens, are satisfyingly juicy yet given depth by Willey's understanding of the complexities of friendship, a theme she's pursued since her first YA novel, The Bigger Book of Lydia, was published in 1983. --The Horn Book Magazine

-- (11/1/2012 12:00:00 AM)

"There's very little that's expected about Willey's (A Summer of Silk Moths) novel about secrets and the power in both keeping and releasing them. For starters, the three teenagers at its center are middle school, not high school students. And while the teens--Nate, Katie, and Renata--share their versions of the events surrounding their alleged abduction of a popular jock, a large part of the narrative is dedicated to Greta Shield, a divorced social worker attempting to piece together the truth. Since Nate, Katie, and Renata spend the novel in juvenile detention, the sections focusing on Greta greatly contribute to its forward momentum. Nate and Katie's perspectives unfold in journal entries they prepare for Greta; Katie tends toward the exclamatory, while Nate writes in a formal, heroic voice that reflects his passion for fantasy literature. For her part, Renata contributes dramatic, almost nightmarish b&w illustrations (not all seen in final form) that keenly demonstrate her powers of observation. An unnecessary nod toward the supernatural is the only off note in what's otherwise a meticulously detailed and psychologically astute story with the feel of a procedural drama." --Publishers Weekly

-- (10/8/2012 12:00:00 AM)