It's Not Like It's a Secret
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.
It's Not Like It's a Secret
IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET by Misa Sugiura follows the story of Sana Kiyohara as she grapples with identity, sexuality, diversity, moving to a new state, and the possibility of her father having an affair. Sugiura does a fantastic job at writing Sana, giving her enough maturity and self-awareness to handle the obstacles thrown in her way, while at the same time, making her an authentic, relatable teenager. Similar to Sana, the other characters, all coming from different backgrounds, have distinctive voices and unique perspectives on life and the high school experience.
What I enjoy most about this novel are the points it makes at the end regarding truth and honesty. Rarely do I see books make such strong statements on moral issues lately, and this one is able to do so without being didactic. Because the book lives in a gray space, as opposed to declaring the world black and white, Sana’s final revelations are all the more powerful and can be applied to many situations. Sugiura’s message on integrity not only transcends the pages of the novel, but it is important for readers of all ages to hear and to, at the very least, ponder.
I also love how Sugiura weaves poetry into the fabric of this novel, and I hope this book will serve as a conduit for young readers who have yet to discover how amazing poetry can be. With that being said, I constantly found myself wishing that the poems Sana comments on were provided in the text of the novel. I understand the issues of copyright and how that could have influenced the decision to exclude the excerpts. However, the fact that they were missing left much to be desired.
Overall, IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET is an engaging read about one girl’s triumph in learning how to be forthright, not only with herself, but with her family and friends. Sana’s courage to be herself, despite societal pressures, is inspiring and will touch the hearts of many who are lucky enough to read this novel.