The Secret is Out: Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret Review

Fall makes me want funny books. Something about the onset of months and months of cold grey weather and seven thousand layers of clothing makes me crave a good belly laugh. If it can come in the form of a YA book, even better.

Enter Vicki Grant.

Vicki Grant has been writing funny books for years now. Her last novel, Not Suitable for Family Viewing, in addition to receiving many accolades, won over the hearts of thousands of children in Ontario who voted for it and earned Grant the prestigious Red Maple Award this May. In Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret, Grant returns with her trademark wit, breezy style, and new lovable characters.

Betsy Wickwire is having a hard time. After she catches her best friend in the middle of a not-so-innocent kiss with Betsy’s boyfriend, she eschews her old life at the centre of the in-crowd in favour of moping and anonymity. That is until she meets Delores Morris, a quirky fashionista and budding entrepreneur who coerces Betsy into starting up a cleaning service with her. Suddenly Betsy has a job,  a new friend, extra cash, and a possible love interest. Plus snooping in other people’s affairs certainly has an uplifting affect on a girl. But Dolores isn’t quite what she seems and Betsy comes to understand that while everyone has secrets, some are more painful and detrimental than others.

The pacing in this book is key. Grant is smart not to dwell in Betsy’s woe-is-me attitude and instead plops her right down in the middle of a new adventure. I very much enjoyed snooping into other people’s lives with Betsy, and I’m sure teens will, too. Grant could have sailed through this story, creating a simple, feel-good, funny piece of teen chick lit (complete with a sexy/nerdy love interest), but instead she builds something interesting and weightier, adding layers about identity and friendship that bring Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret to a whole other level, one that will no doubt be noticed by readers and awards committees. A great read for lovers of contemporary realistic fiction (think Tish Cohen, Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Maureen Johnson), 12+.

If you are in Halifax on October 17th, be sure to drop by the George Wright House for the book launch for Betsy Wickwire. Books will be sold by the lovely folks at Woozles and fun will be had by all. I only wish I could be there myself.

Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret is available now in trade paperback from HarperCollins Canada.

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