The secrets we keep by Nova Weetman
UQP, 2016. ISBN 9780702254215
(Age: 11+) Recommended. This is a sad, but sweet, poignant journey into loss and heartache. Clem has lost everything and her life has spun into the world of 'Nothing will ever be the same again'; her family and her 'normal' have been torn apart. She has watched her home burn to the ground, and has only her considerate and gracious father to lean on in the aftermath and in her grief. A change of home and school while they wait to see if the insurance company will pay out their claim leaves Clem with the inner turmoil of extreme change and the loss of all that she has known. A secret shared at her new school creates opportunities for friendship, but with it comes immediate regret at opening up the wounds of her life. And then everything starts to become more and more painful. Running fast is all that gives her escape, but even this is marred by the secret that she has shared. Pain and torment swirl around her as she tries to fit into the changed world of life after the fire.
This is gently written, and allows difficult issues to be discussed and friendship to be explored in a way that young readers can connect with. But there are sad moments amidst the narrative, and although Clem has support in her grief, she must also be personally responsible for her passage through this journey. Readers will appreciate this as a story of self-discovery and not a handbook for dealing with grief issues. Although the text of this book could easily by managed by a young capable reader, the content is best left to an upper Primary reader. The content could be quite distressing, but Weetman manages to offer some light moments and glimmers of hope.