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It's Not Like It's a Secret

Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (102 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Well-paced, brimming with drama, and utterly vital." —Kirkus (starred review)

This charming and bittersweet coming-of-age story featuring two girls of color falling in love is part To All the Boys I've Loved Before and part Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature!

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 the 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.

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.

©2017 Misa Sugiura (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

YA contemporary that focused on an important topic

What did you love best about It's Not Like It's a Secret?

Wooooo....wow this book was a lot to unpack. Lots of conversations that need to be had but have never been approached like this before. I think a lot of books about prejudice and ignorance tend to focus on a very black and white lens but this one centered on prejudice in Mexican and Asian communities, which is very unique to California being that both racial groups are the largest minorities. I think the pros of this story was that it made me feel something, and it wasn't always cotton candy and comfort.

What scared me the most about this story is that it reflected my own childhood and teenage years. Sana, the main character's mother, i'm ashamed to admit that she's actually like my grandmother. She's ignorant. She says hateful things about pretty much every ethnic group she doesn't fall under and she doesn't think of anything she says as wrong. She's scared of what she considers different, and unfortunately I found myself relating to Sana for not doing the right thing and challenging her on her ignorance. It's hard to challenge people you love and raised you and make them see your point when they in their heads, feel as though they've never been wrong. I constantly ask myself, why don't people call their families out on their racist thoughts? And then I think back to every situation that's happened and has yet to happen, where I don't correct my family members for saying hurtful things. Sometimes it's just not worth it and you always feel as though you're never going to change their minds.

While I didn't think Sana was a traditionally likable heroine, I did however relate to her. I think what would have made this book a five is if it would have centered more on the f/f relationship and not so much the drama her parents were going through. It was so distracting and all I wanted was a love story. I also needed Sana to own up to her privilege and admit that all the hurtful things she said about Latinos were wrong and that she needed to learn more about things she wasn't knowledgeable enough about before she spoke. Overall, we need more ff books with no white gaze and this was a step forward in that direction.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • whoa!
  • North Carolinaa
  • 11-10-17

Just okay

Overall, the story was okay. At the beginning, I definitely wanted to get a refund on my credit. I have only done that once before, so I really try to stick with a book and see it through. I'm probably not the target audience. So without giving too much away, it's basically an "instalove" story. It's somewhat predictable. The book discusses a lot of stereotypes... and frequently. I was able to get to a point where I cared about the characters enough to where I didn't hate myself for "wasting" a credit.
It does have some positive messages and maybe some insight to certain situations and cultures. That's a plus.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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REALLY RECOMMEND

I, as a 14 year old mixed, lesbian, fulllly recommend this book! It tackles lots of real life problems and the way that people overlook and stereotype each race. Not only that but, it shows the emotions of loving the same gender, and learning to be okay with that. Plus the narrator was amazing and conveyed so much emotion that helped tie the whole book together. I love this book, and it’s definitely one of my favorites now.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Better than I expected

Strong start and in the end I really enjoyed this, but there were a few moments when I just had to take out my buds from irritation. The story suffers from some irritating tropes. I get that drama needs conflict, in this genre its usually either the parents or homophobes but one of my least favorite tropes is the protagonist unwittingly weaving an ever-more-complicated web of unnecessary lies. It isn't quite that bad but it almost gets there.
However I'm glad I stuck with it because it makes up for everything in the end and I forgave the story for what it did to me.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Excellent performance and interesting story

The performance and 90% of the story are near flawless but some bumps in the writing prevent me from giving it a perfect review. The story feels slow at times and rushed at others, especially towards the end. I would have liked to have seen more of Jamie and Sana rekindling, and perhaps more of Jamie's friends.

The supporting cast is extremely strong, and performed expertly by Emily Woo Zeller. It's rare that one can read/listen to a book one time and remember ever secondary and supporting character, even those only mentioned two or three times.

The cultural aspect really elevates this story above others in its respective genre, and the race dynamic between Jamie and Sana is far more nuanced than I expected going in.

To summarize, "It's Not Like It's A Secret" is a YA novel done right with rarely a dull moment, even in the parts where the story slows down. A must read for anyone interested in LGBT representation, asian culture, race dynamics, or just good reads.
8/10.

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sensationally amazing

couldn't stop listening to it.

lots of tough but important issues that teens, and everyone really, were brought to life beautifully and with a realness that is greatly appreciated. a realness that is rarely seen in the YA genre.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Little boring

This book started very well however it just went on for to Long
And i personally didn’t really like the narraters voice

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Secrets , prejudice & exploring differences

I picked this book because it had a girl loves girl plot, and I was a bit afraid that it would be a teenage romance.
It is. But in the best way.
You see the story from the point of view of a young Japanese American girl. She deals with moving to a new place that has new codes and social tribes. She struggles with communicating with her very traditional mother. She wishes to bridge the gap between her "Asian friends" assigned group and the Latino crew that her crush is a part of. And through that experience and theirs, she discovers a new angle on prejudice. Through her eyes, we get to see how the cliché of the Good Asian Girl is born and how it leads teens to sneak around in secret and become creative in cover stories.
We see Sana hoping and longing to kiss a girl, that girl, but also being terrified because it would be just another secret to keep from everyone.
We experience from the inside the burden of a family secret that should never fall on the shoulder of a child, and the torment of what to do, if anything, with it.
I loved this book because it wasn't just a live story. It was several. It was a snapshot of sociology. It had robust characters and lovely narration.
Highly recommended on my part.