cover image Holly's Secret

Holly's Secret

Nancy Garden. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33273-0

When seventh-grader Holly and her family move from New York City to the country, Holly hatches a plan to become sophisticated ""Yvette"" and to hide the fact that she has two lesbian mothers. In a topical take on the ""What a tangled web we weave"" adage, Holly finds that her plan is a lot more difficult in practice than in theory and that it hurts the people who matter the most to her. The characterizations and conflicts of this morality tale don't run deep--popular clique leader Julia is unfailingly mean-spirited, self-centered and narrow-minded, whereas the formerly fat Mary is immediately understanding and sympathetic--and everything tidily resolves itself at the end. Holly learns her lesson (and gets a boyfriend), Julia gets her comeuppance and everyone lives happily ever after. Garden (Annie on My Mind) does a good job portraying Holly's moms' pain and disappointment, but Holly herself can seem unrealistically na ve. The result is a novel that succeeds as a lesson while not quite succeeding to engage as a story. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)