Book Review # 42: The Best Kept Secret by Wendi Nunnery

Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for BookFish Books. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: The Best Kept Secret
Author: Wendi Nunnery
Publisher: BookFish Books
Format: eBook
Publication Date: June 2nd 2015
Pages: 198
Review Copy from Publisher
Purchase: Amazon 

In high school, everyone has secrets. Even well-brought-up Emma FraserEmma’s sophomore year started out all wrong. First, her best friend Andy confessed to losing his virginity leaving Emma all alone in the V-Club. Then the rest of her friends got weird and suddenly Emma finds herself feeling like the people she knows best have become total strangers. And total strangers are becoming friends.

When Deegan Burke, a rich, gorgeous senior, asks Emma to be his date for the prom, Emma thinks her luck has begun to change. But rather than being able to bask in this newfound glory, her whole world starts to unravel. And when secrets that once seemed so innocent start to take a very dangerous turn, Emma discovers that true friends are friends no matter what…and some secrets aren’t worth keeping.

So I hadn't heard of Wendi Nunnery at all until Beth (@BookLoverx), an intern from BookFish Books (and a friend of mine on Twitter) put up a picture on Instagram stating that she was looking for book bloggers to take part in a YA contemporary blog tour. I enquired about more information and then the next thing you know and I'm down for the blog tour to promote Wendi's book, which of course I'm more than happy to oblige with! This was a very moving contemporary book with some secrets that I saw coming as well as some that I didn't and they completely took me by surprise. So what did I think of this author's debut novel?

This was a very interesting novel to read because while the premise does give you a lot of information, it's also quite vague. So really, I wasn't sure what I was going to expect. When I started getting into the book, the first thing I noticed about it was the writing style. Wendi Nunnery has a lovely and very fluid writing style that makes you really connect to the characters and allows for you to attempt to understand what they're going through. I have to admit the pacing of the novel in the beginning was a little slow in terms of development, but trust me a lot of that development hits in around the half way mark. I think because in the first half of the book there is a lot of information given to you, it can be quite surreal to try and to piece all of the bits together to form a coherent story arc. By this I don't mean that it's difficult to interpret, but more because there is a mystery sense in this novel as to what the secrets are, you find yourself as an amateur detective trying to create a valid conclusion. Wendi  somehow manages to tackle that confusion as the novel progresses and all of the secrets that you start to learn really allow you to piece together the larger picture of what is happening. 

I will admit that in terms of the plot, there isn't an awful lot going on but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a very straightforward story arc with a clear beginning, middle and end. This simplicity is often missed in novels because everything seems to be split into trilogies or series these days, and even then you're left wondering on the structure. At least with a stand alone novel you're guaranteed this structure. Saying this there were definitely elements of the ending that jumped out to me and really surprised me. I hate to say this but as I mentioned in my Goodreads tracking, up until the 75% mark I was going to award this book a 2 star rating. Now in my opinion that does not in any way state that this book is bad. I don't want any of my readers getting that impression because overall I would definitely recommend this book to people. As I state in my site's rating system 'a book will receive a star rating of 2 if I read the book, found interest in it but at times started to question my overall enjoyment of the novel. I would also rate a book a 2 if I felt that although I could see the potential in the story, there were a few elements or plot holes that kept arising while reading. This could also be interpreted as small features of the book that turned me off slightly.' Unfortunately it was that last element that was making me lean towards a 2 star rating for this book. These certain elements were mainly the way that sex was reacted to in this book. I understand that in modern society, sex is a very liberal and consequential topic that arises with young adults, and that some teenagers tend to explore this quite early on in life. Unfortunately this in some cases often leads to regret (which Wendi did tackle in this book, and she did so very well) and can make teenagers appear to be very irresponsible in this field. I just felt that the way that the main character reacted to sex was a tiny bit melodramatic. To get so upset because you're the only one to your knowledge left in the virgin club? I wouldn't have thought that would have been such a bad thing, but to have the character break down over it? Perhaps not. Saying this however, this slight fault was rectified later in the story as we found out that it wasn't necessarily because of that fact, but because of the mystery and the lies behind all the secrecy. I also found some of the family relationships to be a bit troubling - especially the way the parents were portrayed. I enjoyed Grace, I thought she was the idea of a parental figure but Emma's parents, especially some of the dialogue that was used in conversations between Emma and her parents just seemed to be quite unrealistic and unfortunately that was a shame.

Lets move onto the characters. In this novel we're introduced to a very interesting range of characters. You have our main character Emma, who for a narrator was very forward, quite dramatic and rather enjoyable to read the narration of. I admit at times she was a bit frustrated as I mentioned before, she has a tendency to be a bit melodramatic but besides that she's quite a down to earth character. You have Andy, her guy best friend who is depicted as a very likeable character with charismatic charm. He seemed very realistic for a best friend kind of character, especially with the dialogue that occurred between Emma and him. I really enjoyed reading their scenes. The only particular annoyance I had with Andy's character was the relationship he had with his brother, Jesse. I really didn't like the way he was treating him. Although at times you could see the realism in the situation, I just felt like Jesse's character was going through enough to then have to endure the endless torment of his brother. There was Deegan and Georgia who I loved to hate throughout this novel. Without spoiling the ending, Deegan gets everything he deserves and unfortunately I didn't feel as much redemption for Georgia as I think the author intended. Wendi opens up the ending to allow a bit of sympathy on Georgia but I wasn't buying it. She was manipulative and cunning and I wasn't a fan of her at all. You also have Elsie whom I thought was adorably innocent in her own way. She reminds me so much of the quiet but devilish friend whom you never quite see coming, the dark horse if you will. 

However I have to mention that my favourite character had to be Jesse. He was quiet, unique and held the biggest secret of them all. I never saw the reveal coming and when the ending came I literally was sat there in complete shock - the look of horror on my face was probably a sight for sore eyes. He seemed so innocent and reclusive and I just wanted to give him a hug the entire of the way through the story. It was so easy to see from the reader's perspective of Jesse's feelings and it was such a shame that Emma couldn't see them. The biggest secret of them all was so beautifully tragic and although I hated the ending because it almost brought me to tears, I also really loved it. I found it very true to life and that often it's the quietest of us all that hide the biggest secrets of them all - and quite often unfortunately it's too late to realise them. Jesse was one of those unique characters with such a tragic history, it literally brought out all of the emotions as we journeyed with him throughout this novel. Alternatively as tragic as his story was, his graduation speech was probably one of the most heartfelt and realistic displays I've read in literature in a long while. It was moving, sympathetic and very open-minded. It forced you to think about the words and their meanings. I loved it. Although this completely takes the focus away from the actual novel, but for me this was really Jesse's story - which is probably not the words Wendi wants to hear considering the events of the story all feature around Emma. If we ever get some sort of prequel or novella I'd love to hear more about him and his experiences. Even a short story, pretty please Wendi? 

So overall this was a really lovely contemporary novel to review, even if I did have some problems with it along the way. The story was a journey of discovery. It touches on truths, the meaning of real friendship, the ignorance of struggle and the lesson that the best kept secrets are truly the ones that create an impact on us. I award The Best Kept Secret by Wendi Nunnery a 3 out of 5 star rating, even though it probably leans more towards a 3.5! 

If you're wanting to hear more from The Best Kept Secret then make sure to stick around for the blog tour! It runs from June 2nd - June 9th and my stop is on the 8th. I'll be featuring Wendi herself as she provides us with an insight into her Top Ten Things To Know About Being a Published Author! I look forward to seeing you all then!

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