LIVING IN SECRET by Cristina Salat


Age Range: 11 - 14
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 After six years in her father's custody, Amelia, 12, escapes through a window at three a.m. to live with Mom and Janey, whose lesbian bond is in its ninth year. At first, Mom stays in New York to confuse Dad's detective while Amelia and Janey fly to San Francisco and set up house under new names; Amelia describes the anxious care required to keep their stories consistent and avoid attention. Though she doesn't go to school (they hire a tutor), she becomes close to a girl she meets at the library, but it's not an easy friendship: Elizabeth reads Amelia's secretiveness as racism (Amelia's not sure about bringing Elizabeth home, but it's not because she's black) or as lack of trust. Eventually, Amelia confides in her friend, and Elizabeth holds true (though her nice, strict parents have their prejudices). Then the detective tracks them down, and--forcibly and under threat of prosecution- -Dad takes Amelia back to Long Island, where she manages to make contact with Mom and will probably accept her offer to reopen the custody question in court. Salat's debut is carefully fashioned to present the issues: Amelia has always preferred her mother, whose relationship with Janey is mature, stable, and affectionate; her placement with Dad was a result of homophobia- -his and the court's. The main characters are likable and believable, though not shown in depth; Dad, however, is so one- dimensionally adamant that it's hard to credit Amelia's love for him. Even so, crafted with insight and skill. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-553-08670-7
Page count: 184pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993