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I’ve been trying to figure out what kept nagging me about this book and I finally figured it out: It’s a little too afterschool special. There’s a lot to like about Robin Reardon’s A Secret Edge; however, this kept me from completely embracing it. The novel is about track star Jason Peele coming to terms with his gayness and for such a quick read (258 pages), there is a lot of plot in here (let’s take a quick count of the major plot points):

1) Jason fully realizes he’s gay; 2) Jason helps out a kid in English class that’s having trouble with character sketches; 3) Jason falls for Raj and they start down the path of having a relationship, a tumultuous one to say the least; 4) Jason starts coming out; 5) Jason prepares for the big track meet; 6) Jason befriends another closeted guy at school; 7) Jason gets bullied. There are at least two more that I could put in here, but that would start to ruin some of the climax of the book and I don’t want to do that. And, there’s usually a lesson around all of these.

I don’t want to sound harsh about the book, a did like it. But I think the message elements bash you over the head a little too much. Some of the very same lessons were in Hero, but the morals there were more subtle. I know that this, as a book for the Young Adult audience, seeks to tell the right message to its readers but you also have to have some faith that the reader will get it.

Taking the heavy-handed messages and putting that aside. I liked the book. The plot was compelling and Reardon did a good job of making everything tie together.

Next up, taking a break from the novels for a bit to dig into the October issue of Vanity Fair.