Verdict: YA novelist Jane Alvey enthralls in her second installment of her myth trilogy “SECRET KEEPER.” By tapping into the shame of a teenage girl’s past trauma, Harris keeps readers mesmerized in this coming-of-age fantasy in which protagonist Emily Alvey, a survivor of sexual abuse, finds freedom and clarity in the depths of her wild imagination.
“Everything that brought me to this point streams through my mind as if I’m watching it happen to someone else – a documentary of some wretched girl’s life. Only it isn’t someone else. It’s me, and all that has happened to me.”
These inner thoughts belong to Emily Alvey, a 17-year-old girl who – in author Jane Alvey Harris’s compelling second installment of her myth trilogy “Secret Keeper” – continues to process and cope with the trauma of being sexually abused by her father 10 years earlier. Her therapist, Aunt Nancy, tells her to live her life one day at a time, but to a teenager who thrives on escapism, it’s “a barf worthy cliché.” Emily is, after all, in survival mode. Fresh from a detox center to kick a prescription drug addiction, (she wasn’t trying to kill herself, but her cares: “I just wanted to get out of my head for a while”) her mother returns from rehab and her father is released from prison. After a trip to a vineyard in northern California with family members, which include her three siblings, they were going to live as a family again in Dallas.
Determined to protect her siblings from the hands of their troubled father, Emily struggles to divulge her secret of her father’s abuse to her siblings. Fueled by crippling anxiety, she’s already conjured reasons not to tell: her brother’s presumed hatred for her, the preconceived notion that she’s crazy. She’s even convinced it was her secret that caused her uncle’s coincidental stroke. At the California vineyard, Emily uses self-hypnosis to escape from her situation and alternates between reality and inner realms in her consciousness, living out a fairytale-like fantasy outside a Royal City with elves, maidens, banished fairies, her family members – some of whom are princesses and kings – and her real-life love interest, in which she battles different depths of herself: the validation-seeking victim, the gawky screw-up and the avenger who wants to destroy her father, all hoping the purposeful champion, “Emily the Ovate,” prevails.
Though her view of herself in reality is a “huddled lost girl occupying her body” and struggles with finding self-love, in her fantasy, Emily’s got her dragonflies at her side – spirit animals Teagan, Chloe, Twist and Minali – who influence her to look at life with a fresh perspective and positivity. While juggling complications of teenage life: boys, dramas and dreaming of living a normal life without fear, she finds true strength, not in mastering others, but herself.
Young adult novelist Jane Alvey enthralls in her second installment of her myth trilogy “SECRET KEEPER.” By tapping into the shame of a teenage girl’s past trauma, Harris keeps readers mesmerized in this coming-of-age fantasy in which protagonist Emily Alvey, a survivor of sexual abuse, finds freedom and clarity in the depths of her wild imagination.
~ Lianna Albrizio for IndieReader