A not so ordinary romance novel

R. Murphy

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I decided to venture into the world of romance for this month’s book review. Now when entering this vast genre of books, you have to be very careful with what you decide to read because some of it is pure nonsense. You really have to be able to judge a book by its cover, which is something that goes against all of my morals, but in this case it might protect you from reading a book about a rich man and his “play room.”

This is exactly why I chose to read “It’s Not Like it’s a Secret” by Misa Sugiura. This is a romance book that is not typical but still follows the plot of high school romance… it is sure to give you the feels.

It centers on two girls, 16-year-olds Sana Kiyohara and Jamie Ramirez.  Let’s just put this out in the open so there’s no confusion: they are lesbians. Yup hold on to your hats folks, women don’t always choose men. Shocker.

What I really mean to say is that the romance genre is expanding as more and more people are realizing that love is love. However, in this book, there is a mix of a whole bunch of types of relationships which is what I think makes this book so special.

With the plot revolving around these two star-crossed lovers, we are instantly thrown into a time of confusion for Sana. Having just moved to California, she is worried about the things that any normal teenager would be. What are people going to think of her at her new school? What should she wear? Will she make friends fast? These questions keep building and building to the point where she starts to question her sexuality. Enter Jamie Ramirez.

With Sana running about four miles a day in order to spend more time with Jamie on the cross country team, a simple romance blossoms. Unfortunately, problems arise too soon in their perfect paradise. With Sana attracting unwanted attention from her friend Caleb, Jamie’s ex not being completely out of the picture, and Jamie’s friends hating her, the list goes on and on but I won’t bore you with that.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the differences of characters, not only personality wise, but also by culture and race. Sana’s mom heavily influences her towards her Asian roots and heritage which is why it’s hard for Sana to find the courage to come out. On the other hand, Jamie and her friends are struggling against the stereotype some people have of Mexican people.

As far as different personalities go, this book definitely has a bunch of them. Since it takes place in a high school, there are definitely cliques and ‘squads’ to recognize. There’s the stereotype goths, jocks, smart kids, and stoners to watch out for.

When Misa was writing this book, she was definitely intertwining a bunch of her own experiences. After growing up in Northfield, Illinois and attending college, she moved to Japan and lived there for three years. After that, she became a high school English teacher and she uses the inspiration of her students as fuel for her book.

Whatever you may be doing this Valentine’s Day, I strongly encourage you to pick up this book. It will make you love the people you have with you today and cherish the time you have with them, whether they be a man or a woman.


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