Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana (Review)

Release date: November 1 2011
Publisher: Pageworks Press
Number of pages: 176
My rating: 2/5
My feelings on the book can be accurately described by the phrase: “it’s not you, it’s me.” This book is just so clichéd, and I’ve become far too cynical for books like this. There’s no doubt that it’s well written and it’s definitely a decent book for anyone who loves horses, but I did have quite a few problems with this book.

Kate McGregor used to love horses a riding, but after a tragic accident that she was blamed for, she makes the decision to give up horses forever. She takes a summer job as a companion to Holly, a girl confined to a wheelchair. Problem is, Holly’s mother is a riding instructor and Holly loves horses. Kate’s secret is forced out into the open, and Angela Dean—the barn’s resident mean girl—has it out for her.

*sigh*. Does that synopsis sound like anything you’ve read before? That’s because the book is like almost every other horse book.

Let me summarise:

There’s a girl who either has no money or promises to never ride again.

She meets an awesome horse.

Something causes the girl to start riding again.

The girl is a really awesome rider and everyone’s all like “OMG, you’re soooo amazing!” :D

There’s a mean rich girl who’s totally jealous and tries to make the nice girl lose.

Well, you get the picture…

This book was so predictable. Angela Dean does everything in her power to win first place in a very important horse show and everyone hates on her all the time. Kate is the best rider ever, and has no problems with her riding whatsoever. Everyone works really hard for the horse show and the book goes on…

The characters were very underdeveloped. With the exception of Kate and Angela, all the other girls were completely boring and plain. Holly is very uninteresting, and we never get to know the other riders on the team at all.

One of my biggest problems with this book is the central plot. While you would think that the book would focus on riding and preparing for the show, it doesn’t. In fact, the book is so focused on the conflict between Angela and Kate that it’s almost sickening. I’m just so sick of the whole rich-girl poor-girl type conflicts in horse books. The conflict is shallow, and as usual, the rich girl is completely bitchy and unrealistic, because winning a ribbon in a horse show is like, the most important thing, EVA!! (sorry. I couldn’t resist being sarcastic for a moment.)

There should have been more focus on the horses within the book. We hear Holly say that no one else except for one girl is good enough to ride her horse. Yet, when Kate gets on, Black Magic behaves perfectly and suddenly turns into a push-button horse.

… what?

Seriously. This book has huge potential for a bigger, better storyline, but instead, it focuses on a very petty, unrealistic feud between two characters I couldn’t care less about.

A very typical middle-grade horse book, I can actually see this appealing to many people. It’s actually perfect for younger horse lovers. If you’re getting sick of clichéd books, stay away from this.


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