Book Review

Book Review: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Published 4th May 2017 by Electric Monkey.

34042519Goodreads Synopsis: Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can’t tell anyone.
Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…

My Review: When this arrived in the post, I was so excited – the premise sounded amazing. I was hesitant to start it, because I was really hopeful for a realistic and positive portrayal of disability – I had high hopes!

All those high hopes were met – I Have No Secrets is fantastic.

Jemma, 14, is reliant on Sarah, her carer, given her cerebral palsy condition that limits her movement and speech. Those around her are always letting her in on secrets, and Jemma can never reply – and that becomes a huge barrier to a crime when she discovers a culprit.

I absolutely adored following the story through Jenna’s internal monologue. I loved her narration and her voice and it’s the reason why I don’t think there’s anything in YA like this right now. I felt Jemma’s frustration at being unable to tell people what she knew, and really connected with her. Especially as the author has a background in working with disabled people, and a lot of research has gone into this book, I really think it’s a great, honest portrayal of what it’s like to live with severe physical disability.

The story is so eye-opening and diverse: I really liked the family set up. I think it’s pretty rare to see portrayals of large foster families in books, especially including people with disabilities. It was really great to read about them!

For the first third of the book, I felt like the plot was a little bit all over the place, as lots of family, health and crime issues arise close together and my attention was drawn all over the place for a bit. However, it’s really clever how they all intersect and the different parts of Jemma’s life come together – just wait for the ending, it’s really unexpected.

Overall, I hugely enjoyed I Have No Secrets and would definitely recommend it. It has such a wide appeal, and even if contemporary / thriller stories aren’t your kind of thing, I urge you to pick this up for its unique perspective and portrayal of disability. These kinds of books are so important. Not only that; it’s a riveting read too!

My Rating:

four and a half

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

  1. Georgia, I would really like to read this book. Although it’s aimed at young adults I’m sure older people would read it

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