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Penny Joelson: Why You Should Read 'I Have No Secrets'

18 July 2017

Medium no secrets
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We asked author Penny Joelson why Reading Hackers should try her book, I Have No Secrets

I hope you will read this book because you love a good thriller and because you want to read something written from a viewpoint that isn’t usually heard. Jemma is fourteen and has severe cerebral palsy. She is unable to move or communicate and is totally dependent on her family and carer.

Jemma has no secrets of her own, but other people share their secrets with her. She knows her carer, Sarah, is two-timing her boyfriend Dan. She also knows Dan has a nasty side – although he has charmed everyone else. He makes snide comments to Jemma and then one day he tells her he is the one who murdered Ryan, a boy from down the road. Jemma knows he’s dangerous, but how can she protest Sarah?

The thriller is combined with a strong family story. Jemma lives in a foster family with two foster-siblings who each have their own lives to deal with. She also discovers that she has a sister who was adopted separately and who wants to meet her. Her foster parents are keen to find a way for Jemma to communicate but nothing so far has been successful.

If you have ever felt you had something important to say, but were unable to say it, you might have a tiny inkling of what life is like for Jemma. She can’t say if she wants a drink, or ketchup on her chips or tell someone she feels unwell. People often talk to her as if she can’t understand when in fact she understands so much and is aware of so many things. She deals with frustrations and challenges, but she is also happy with her life and loves her family and Sarah.

Here are a few quotes from reviews:

‘This was a really terrific read that encompassed many things – but the best thing about it was Jemma whose character voice shone through the entirety of the story and kept you on her side from the very opening pages.’ Liz Barnsley Goodreads

‘an absolute joy of a novel in so many ways and one that I’m sure will be much talked about for a long time’ Jade Craddock

‘One of my favourite YA novels this year….an absolute page turner.’ Irish Sunday Independent
‘A must buy – must read’ ireadnovels (Amazon)

‘Jemma’s voice is vibrant and startling and the story is a tense murder mystery with a satisfying ending.’ Suepuffin (Amazon)