On My Bookshelf: The Secret to Letting Go by Katherine Fleet

March 07, 2016

The Secret to Letting Go by Katherine Fleet is the perfect read for teenage romance enthusiasts. From the moment Daniel and Clover meet until the novel's end, the whirlwind of emotions never dies down. Unfortunately their troubling pasts seem to constantly disrupt their hope for happiness together. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
Basic plot from Amazon: Haunted with guilt after his girlfriend's death, Daniel Hudson has no interest in committing to anyone. At the end of the summer, he'll be leaving Florida for a new start in college. If only he could avoid the mysterious new girl in town, who seems every bit as naive and eccentric as she looks. Trouble is, she's hard to ignore, with her beautiful piercing eyes, pitiful-looking dog, and unsettling tendency of finding trouble. Clover Scott lived her whole life off the grid and arrives on the Gulf coast in search of her grandparents. She never expected to nearly drown, or get caught in a hurricane, or fall in love with the boy who rescues her. Now, she has a chance to rewrite her life's story, to finally fit in somewhere, but Daniel wants answers about her past. When the police start asking questions about the disappearance of her parents, she must make a choice: go to jail or confess her secrets-even if they might destroy her chance at a happily-ever-after.

Why I liked it: The Secret to Letting Go is a perfect novel for teenage romance enthusiasts. From the moment Daniel and Clover meet until the novel's end, the whirlwind of emotions never dies down. Does he like me? Does she still like me? Do I like him? Can I trust her? Why is he holding back? Why is she acting that way? Why doesn't he want to be together? The chapters are told in alternating perspectives, sometimes from Daniel's point of view and sometimes from Clover, so you can't help but get sucked into the drama of their relationship. Despite the feelings that the two have for each other, both teenagers are haunted by events in their past. Daniel is still reeling from the suicide of a past girlfriend and Clover is still struggling to cope with her mother's death, caused by the man she believed was her father, and his subsequent suicide.

The Secret to Letting Go by Katherine Fleet is the perfect read for teenage romance enthusiasts. From the moment Daniel and Clover meet until the novel's end, the whirlwind of emotions never dies down. Unfortunately their troubling pasts seem to constantly disrupt their hope for happiness together. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.As an adult reader, I struggled with a few plot details. One was the almost immediate acceptance of Clover by Daniel's family. Another was the number of coincidences, like when Sam's father (also Clover's father) happens to be out looking for Clover during a storm, hits her as she is riding her bicycle, and then she saves him just before his truck explodes into flames.

I was also concerned with the novel's light treatment or avoidance of discussion on mental health issues. Both Daniel and Clover have suffered serious psychological trauma and the man Clover thinks is her father suffers from extreme mental illness. While young adults will hopefully never suffer the loss of both parents in a situation similar to Clover's, suicide and death are issues many teens will have to face and I wish the novel dealt more with counseling and/or treatment after these traumas. Both Daniel and Clover keep their feelings bottled up, not a healthy practice or one teens should emulate. A final desire was to see more development of the character of Morgan who came across as a stereotypical temptress. However, I doubt these minor flaws would cause any lack of enjoyment for the average teenage reader.

Classroom application: This title would be a good one to add to your high school classroom library. While there is nothing very sexual in nature in the book, the themes of violence and suicide might be a little too mature for middle school. Your romance and drama lovers will easily be hooked by this one.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Secret to Letting Go for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

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On My Bookshelf is a monthly reading link up hosted by The Literary Maven. Share great books you have read for personal pleasure, for development of your teaching skills, or as additions to your classroom library.

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