Jane Alvey Harris
Jane Alvey Harris (2018)
Reviewed by Arianna Violante, YA Reviewer for Reader Views (2/18)
“Secret Keeper” is the second book in the ‘My Myth Trilogy’ by Jane Alvey Harris. Readers first meet seventeen-year-old Emily in the author’s debut novel, “Riven,” in which the teen creates an intricate fantasy world to protect herself and help her cope with the very real trauma and chaos that is her life.
“Secret Keeper” continues the story as Emily and her family reunite, after she and her mother are both discharged from a stay at a treatment center. Included in the family reunion is Emily’s father, who, just home from prison, is ready to start over with the family. He may have the rest of the family fooled, but Emily knows he hasn’t really changed—he’s ready to pick up right where he left off, leaving Emily desperate to protect her younger siblings. When the lack of support, betrayal and disbelief threaten to overwhelm Emily after she reveals her truth to her family, she must once again cross into the different Realms and face her demons as she searches for a Champion to guide her through what might be her most challenging days yet.
Wow. There are so many layers to this story and I was completely blown away from the beginning. Taking Emily between three different Realms during her journey really put a different spin on things and I found it such a creative way of approaching some very difficult societal and internal teen-age/young adult issues. I was easily caught up in the fantasy world that contains everything any girl ever dreaming of being a princess could imagine—from fairies, dashing heroes and castles, to dungeons, tombs and a wicked Queen – oh, and of course, Drake – the evil villain who threatens the safety and existence of all the Realms and the people in them.
Emily’s character totally makes this story shine. She is so complex! Funny, sarcastic, feisty and impulsive in nature, she shows the world one side of herself, while her inner thoughts show a different side – the side that holds shame, doubt, fear, insecurity and helplessness. Emily is such a current-day teen, who handles herself in ways that genuinely connect with today’s young adult reader. Oh man, some of her inner voices just made me want to scream because I could totally relate. At other times I wanted to shake her and tell her to quit whining and get over herself! I did like how she reacted to circumstances, especially when she comes to some self-realizations that forced her to step up and take responsibility for herself – the whole time I was thinking, “Yeah, I feel your pain, Emily!”
What really connected with me is how the author addresses such contemporary issues – issues we hear about in the current world news every day, specifically abuse and consent. There are several pages that deal with the topic of consent and how to differentiate what it is and what it is not. Without preaching, she explains exactly what it means and how to stand up for your truth – the perfect way to get the point across to YAs, who think they know it all, but deep down really want help.
Jane Alvey Harris has such a fresh, youthful voice and writes with a modern flair – Millennials will easily relate to the language and popular culture. “Secret Keeper” is a five-star story all YAs should read – it’s fun and entertaining, while taking on some serious, relevant issues. I know “Secret Keeper” just came out, but I already look forward to what is sure to be a riveting conclusion to the series!