Thursday, November 25, 2021

I Know Your Secret

Benedis-Grab, Daphne. I Know Your Secret
December 7th 2021 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Four students get a mysterious text one night, saying just "I know your secret". They are each given very specific instructions to follow in order to escape being revealed. For Gemma, it's the fact that she hangs out with a high school boy, but the other secrets are more involved and have more consequences should they be found out. Ally, who was adopted but lost both of her parents in an accident, works with her grandparents at their animal sanctuary. Todd's mother works at a local grocery store and the two struggle to keep afloat, especially after the COVID shutdowns. Todd has anger management issues and has gotten in trouble for hitting others. The four meet up in a custodians' closet at school and realize they are all getting the texts. It is Explorer's Day at school, and there are all sorts of mini courses going on, and the afternoon will showcase the results of these, so it's easier for the kids to sneak around because regular classes are not going on.  They are instructed to get a bag of clothes from a dumpster, put them in a locker, phone the office about it, go into the principal's office to download a file onto a flash drive, and on and on. While doing this, they try to figure out who is blackmailing them, and also learn a bit about the others and their secrets. Will the four be able to complete their tasks and keep their secrets, or find out who is behind the plot and deal with the problem that way?
Strengths: This read a bit like a suspense movie, and there was a lot of good tension surrounding the texts, the tasks, and the mystery of who was behind this. The secrets that the students had were realistic and sufficiently serious for middle school without being too horrible. The kids worked together nicely, and were able to reason out a lot of key plot points. The cover is great, and it is more realistic that students would have the freedom to sneak around during a special event day. 
Weaknesses: The thought of not knowing where students are in school, even during Explorer's Day, makes me very worried, and I have trouble with any book where students conduct a lot of business out of custodial closets! I'm also not a huge fan of the evil adult trope, so this was just not a personal favorite of mine, even though it was well written and has a great premise. I was also a bit concerned about Gemma's relationship with the older boy, but nothing really came of that.
What I really think: YA titles where someone deals in secrets are popular, and this is an interesting middle grade twist on suspense books like Barnes' The Fixer or Elston's The Rules for Disappearing with a dash of Erlbaum's Let Me Fix That For You and even Rylander's The Fourth Stall. Definitely think that students will enjoy this one quite a lot, but I had purely adult problems getting past some of the logistics. I'll definitely purchase this one, and it will get read a lot.  

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