Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Title: Tell Me a Secret
Author: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: June 22nd, 2010
Pages: 256
Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.
Plot: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Impact: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

What do you do when life as you know it begins to fall apart? Not a lot of people are faced with this question, but what happens to those that are? In Rand's case, she looks at the past of her now-deceased but ever enigmatic sister, Xanda.

Rand was always the good girl. With a hurricane Xanda, gutsy and willing to do anything, as a sister, she was always the one her parents saw as the easy child. She watched her sister come together and fall apart repeatedly as she gave into her wild, impulsive ways, and ultimately witnessed Xanda drift further into her own mind and further away from their family. When Xanda disappears, Rand's parents try to make everything normal again, to erase any evidence of their painful past. But when she ends up pregnant five years after her sister's demise, Rand finds herself treading a similar path to Xanda's. Forced to look to the only person she ever trusted, Rand goes back to her memories of Xanda, and discovers things she never knew about her sister, and about herself.

A raw and emotional story of family, sisterhood, and self-discovery, Tell Me A Secret is a gripping story and an astounding debut. Holly Cupala's writing is wonderful, and the way she translates Rand's heartache into paper is simply stunning. Lyrical. Poetic.

Rand is an excellent protagonist. She's not perfect, in fact she's so real, but that's what makes her anguish resonate even more to readers. I have never experienced anything like what she goes through in the novel, yet I could completely identify with her. The characterization of the secondary characters is also excellent. Readers get to know Delaney, the best friend; Kamran, the boyfriend; Rand's parents; even Xanda. She's not alive when the story takes place, but readers get to know her just as well as they do other characters. It's not an easy task, but clearly Cupala has the chops to pull it off.

An important story that blurs that pushes the limits of holding on and letting go, Tell Me a Secret is a definite must-read. It started off okay for me, but it's a novel that grows more powerful as the story progresses, and like Deb Caletti in her review for it, I dare you to put it down in its last hundred pages, too. Impossible, I tell you. Impossible.


  1. Great review, Erica. It does sounds very emotional, but a story I would love to read someday. I can see how a story like this takes time to build up powerful. I also just adore that cover. It's very beautiful.

  2. Brilliant review. I had a WoW for this way back when, but I never got around to reading it. It truly sounds emotional and heartfelt :)

  3. Fantastic review! I'm hoping a paperback version appears so I can see if it's good for myself!

  4. This is one of the books that I'm itching to read but haven't gotten around to yet. Thanks for the review, I think I may bump this book right on up on my TBR list.

  5. I've been seeing this book around a lot lately, and all of the reviews are fairly positive. I'm curious about, but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

  6. oooh i just recently reviewed this, i loved it! i have missed commenting on your blog, hope all is going good :)

  7. Wow you make this one sound so good! I love how Xanda still has a huge impact on her sister's life years after her death. Thanks for the review!