This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults. It appears in volume 17.1.
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret
I knew Betsy Wickwire. She was at least three of my highschool friends. I myself was Dolores Morris, minus the theft. I knew Murdock, too; he was my brother’s best friend. And everyone knows a number of Carlys and Nicks; they plague the teenaged world.
Young adult readers of all ages, and I believe both genders, will love this novel. Vicky Grant’s characters are completely believable; her plot is interesting and well structured; the emotional aspects of Becky’s life are firmly within the realm of teenage possibility. Having teen readers able to both identify with the characters and recognize the validity of the plot is important, too, because Grant is doing more with this novel than just exploring teen relationships and life.
Betsy is clinically depressed after finding her best friend and boyfriend kissing. Her complete breakdown at this event is justified in the narrative, and will ring true to teen readers. What is essential is that her self-guided recovery is equally believable. Grant has done an excellent job of showing the painfully slow road to recovery that Betsy takes, peppering the serious look at a troubled young girl with moments of fun and humour that are a part of teen life. Through this all, we have Betsy’s self-reflective narrative reminding us of the relationship between her internalized self-conception and her narrative world—and thus, the reader will extrapolate, the real world outside the text.
The plot breaks down a bit towards the end, with Betsy’s refusal to force Dolores to pay for her own mistakes; and the last few pages left me wondering, really, where the characters ended up in relation to one another. There is a synopsis, but it is not tied sufficiently to the preceding narrative to satisfy a desire to envision the characters’ futures. But with this very small caveat, I must say that I could not put Besty Wickwire’s Dirty Secret down. As soon as it is released, I will run out and purchase copies for my young teen daughter and all her friends.