It’s Not Like It’s A Secret… That I Have Very Mixed Feelings About This Book

Genre: YA // Contemporary // LGBTQIAP+
Goodreads rating: 3.69
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated (Goodreads).

Oh boy. Okay, so I have a LOT of mixed feelings when it comes to this book, so I decided to make some lists of things I liked and didn’t like. Because 1) I like lists 2) It will hopefully help me gather my thoughts. So let’s go

What I liked

💛 Sana is Japanese, and so is the author, so in that aspect we get own voices (what I could tell from the author’s note at the end she isn’t a part of the LGBT+ community herself)
💛 Sana’s parents speak Japanese a lot in the book and Jamies mom speaks Spanish (though we don’t see her much) It made the book feel authentic and no worries if you don’t speak one or both of these languages! It’s clear from the context what’s being said
💛 Speaking of Sana’s parents, while her dad isn’t around a lot, it’s clear he loves her. While Sana and her mom don’t always see eye to eye (actually, most of the time), towards the end of the book they have a beautiful heartfelt moment which is one of my favourite scenes.
💛 Sana’s new friends. I do wish they had been developed a bit more and had a bit of their own arc outside of Sana (and besides getting a boyfriend), but their interactions with each other and Sana were really fun to read and it was great to read about Sana finding friends that understood her
💛 It’s a pretty quick read
💛 There’s quite a bit of racism in this book that gets adressed, whether it’s aimed at Sana or comes out of her own mouth (or other characters). While I wish some more time had been spent on Sana’s own racism towards Mexicans, it’s made clear that what she said and thought wasn’t okay and it wasn’t resolved that easily
💛 Sana gets the assignment to keep a poetry diary, and the poems she collects and analyses are a part of the novel. Before she got the assignment, she already loved poetry and bonded with Jamie over this. They start to exchange (romantic) poems which is really cute
💛 While I have mixed feelings about the obstacle between the two girls, the way Sana asks for another chance is really romantic and super cute. I’m a sucker for stuff like that.

What I disliked

💛 At some point some boys are clearly interested in Jaimie’s ex-girlfriend, and Sana wants to yell at them to give it up, because she’s a lesbian. Um. Sana. Is she sapphic? Yes. Does that mean she’s a lesbian? No. Bisexuality does exist. There were a few other times that I felt like there was some bi-erasure, but I don’t know if I was overreacting? At some point Sana says to a boy that she would like him if she were straight, and at first I screamed ‘BI-ERASURE’ in my head, because why not say ‘if I were into boys’? She knows bisexuality exists, because at some point she does wonder if she may be bi (though briefly). But I don’t know if I’m overreacting here? It definitely stung though and  put a bad taste in my mouth
💛 Insta-love. Honestly, I have NO IDEA why Sana and Jamie are into each other, besides probably attraction? Oh and they share a love of poetry. Of course this book doesn’t solely focus on romance (it focuses on family, friendship and racism to name a few as well), but since the romance is a big part of the book, the fact that we don’t really see the relationship build up, or actually see much of them as a couple, it just doesn’t work. Were they cute? Sure. Did I ship them? Not really. I honestly couldn’t care less what happened. Of course there’s an obstacle at some point (which I’ll get to later) but I wasn’t invested in their romance at all. I was told they’re in love, but I wasn’t really shown it, let alone why they fell in love. So when things got rough? I didn’t care at all. Besides I knew there was a 99 percent chance things would work out anyway. Also at some point Sana was like ‘it’s only October’ and I went ‘HOLY IT’S ONLY OCTOBER?!’. It’s been a little over a month. A few weeks. WHY
💛 So. The obstacle. Sana did something stupid. And I really wish that what she did (spoiler: she cheated. She thought Sana was cheating on her and thus kissed a boy that liked her, even though she didn’t like him) wasn’t the obstacle in their relationship. On one hand I feel like she was forgiven way too easily, but on the other hand I also understand why she did it. She let her insecurities get to her, then she panicked and only made it worse by not telling the truth to the parties involved and just made it worse. She’s only human, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
💛 Like I said before, I wish Sana’s friends had been developed more and had gotten an arc of the own. Same could be said about the other supporting characters. They were flat and I didn’t really care for them. Since they weren’t well-developed and I barely knew anything about them, they didn’t really stand out from each other. 

That definitely helped me get my thoughts about this book a bit clearer. There are things I liked (or even loved) about it, but when romance is a big part of a book, and I’m not feeling the romance, it’s hard to enjoy the book to it’s fullest. While the other problems I had with it didn’t help either, I think the fact that the romance wasn’t developed is the biggest reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped.

Have you read It’s Not Like It’s A Secret? What did you think of it? Any similar books that you think I would enjoy more? Let me know in the comments!

15 thoughts on “It’s Not Like It’s A Secret… That I Have Very Mixed Feelings About This Book

  1. Agh, THAT’S SUCH A PRETTY BOOKISH PIC! And I knew that if ever read this, I’d probably be mixed on it too. It’s so great that we’re getting lesbian rep but NOOOO INSTA-LOOOOIVE BI ERASURE AHDHSKDKSLSLF. Also I read the spoiler so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Great review! ❤

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  3. Great review, Michelle! I’m so sorry to hear you were a bit disappointed by this – it sounded like a promising story, but…ugh for insta-love and that bi-erasure, that’s such a shame :/

  4. Aw noooo, this seemed like it had so much potential! What a shame to hear about the instalove and bi-erasure, the first one is just a UGH personally, but the second is so harmful </3 Also I totally guessed that spoiler correctly??! I am HORRIBLE at guessing spoilers usually but I feel like that one's something that happens so often? Or is that just me? Anyway. This was such a lovely and thorough review!!

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      • I actually didn’t even know that bi erasure was a thing, and I should have. I remember there was this “joke” song on an episode of Friends (a show I never really watched, but I had roommates who did) where there was a line about how bisexuals were “kidding themselves” *rolls eyes* While I thought the joke was crude, I didn’t know that it was a serious social issue where even in the LTBTQ community bisexuals are shunned :(

      • I remember that! That episode was on tv recently and I was really shocked :/ I used to watch Friends when I was a kid a lot and really loved it, but Friends unfortunately has a lot of problematic stuff (quite a few transphobic jokes too :/) Yeah even in the LGBTQ community there’s a lot of ‘bisexuals don’t exist’ and that we’re going to ‘pick a side’ eventually *eye roll* It’s ridiculous really

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