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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Best Kept Secret by Wendi Nunnery (Book Review)

The Best Kept Secret by Wendi Nunnery
Publisher: Book Fish Books LLC
Publication Date: PB - May 6, 2015 // eBook - June 2, 2015
Format: Paperback - 304 pages
               Kindle - 895 KB
ISBN: 978-0986191039
Genre: YA Romance

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a book review program hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

In high school, everyone has their secrets. Even well-brought-up Emma Fraser.

Emma’s sophomore year started out all wrong. First, her best friend Andy confessed to losing his virginity in the back seat of a car, leaving Emma all alone in the V-Club. Then the rest of her friends got weird and, suddenly, Emma found herself feeling like a stranger. Now, struggling to find her new place, Emma wonders if things could get any worse.

When Deegan Burke, a rich, gorgeous senior, asks Emma to be his date for the prom, Emma thinks her luck has begun to change. But rather than being able to celebrate, her whole world starts to unravel. And when secrets that once seemed so innocent start to take a very dangerous turn, Emma discovers that friends are friends no matter what…and some secrets aren’t worth keeping.

Book Excerpt:


I hate tenth grade.

Being a sophomore kind of reminds me of the first time I got my period: dirty and kind of weird. All of a sudden, I had to lug around diaper-sized pads in my book bag and I really couldn’t have cared less that my body was doing something important. And that’s how tenth grade feels. Dirty and kind of weird.

My best friend Andy Bailey lost his virginity at the beginning of the school year. I cried when he told me, but he doesn’t know that.

“So, I did it,” he said, his voice coming through my speakerphone muffled, as though he were submerged in a bathtub.

I was only half paying attention. I sat cross-legged on my twin bed desperately trying to make a ballerina topknot with my long, fine, dark blonde hair, following the instructions given by a year-old issue of my favorite magazine. But no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t quite able to master direction four: “tease generously.” So inevitably my hair would fall down within seconds.

“Hairspray!” I suddenly shouted into my otherwise empty bedroom. “That’s what I need!”

“Hairspray?” asked Andy. “Emma, what the hell are you talking about? Didn’t you hear what I said?”

“No, hold on!” I exclaimed as I dashed into the bathroom across the hall to grab a barely- used bottle of my mother’s Va-Va-Voom Extra Strength Hold. When I hopped back into place on my bed, I asked, “Why? What did you say?”

“I said ‘I did it’.”
“Did what?”

Andy sighed heavily. “Come on, Emma. Really? It! Sex! I had sex!”

I dropped my hands to my sides, letting the ballerina topknot fall around my shoulders. “When?” I croaked out.


I thought about Andy dropping me off at home after the football game the night before. We’d been at school until the game started, and we didn’t even get to my house until eleven o’clock. “But we were together all day long!” I protested, as though that would somehow restore Andy’s virginity.

“Well,” he said a bit sheepishly, “not all day.”

I sat in stunned silence. Who in the world did Andy have sex with? Was it any good? Where did it happen? And, most importantly, WHO IN THE WORLD DID ANDY HAVE SEX WITH?

“It was after the football game,” he continued. “And, truthfully, it kinda sucked.”

I made a face at my phone. “Andy,” I said with all the patience I could muster, “how did this happen? And with who? Please tell me it wasn’t in your bedroom, or I’m never coming over again. Ever.”

Andy laughed, and I could tell he thought I wasn’t angry. But I was. And the fact that he was so relieved about it just made me angrier.

“Well I’m pretty sure you can imagine how it happened,” he replied with a chuckle. “And we did it in her car. I don’t think you even know her to be honest.”

I scoffed. “Do you even know her?”

“Don’t be judgmental,” Andy said.

“Don’t pull that card on me, Andy Bailey. First of all, you aren’t dating anyone. Second of all, I didn’t even know you were going anywhere after you left my house. And third of all, I would have thought that if you were planning on having sex for the first time you’d let me know, seeing as how we’re best friends and everything. So if I don’t know her, and we know all the same people, how do you know her?”

“It’s judgmental because of how you say it. You sound like my mother.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” I prodded.

“God, now you really sound like my mother, Emma!”

I sat in silence, waiting for him to tell me all about it. I wanted to know what the girl was
like. I wanted to know why he chose her, what made her special. I wanted to know why it didn’t seem to matter that much to him.

As though he could hear my thoughts, Andy said, “It really wasn’t that big of a deal. I just wanted you to know.”

A few months later, when we came back to school after Christmas break, I started hearing things like, “He wanted me to swallow,” and realized I was rapidly becoming the last virgin in my grade.

After Andy told me he’d done it, I went to school every day half expecting an announcement to come over the intercom. I needed some kind of commemoration of the fact that we were now separated by who had and whohadn’t. Surely it was important enough not to go unnoticed by the world.



“Don’t be such a prude,” Andy tells me today on the way home from school. I won’t turn sixteen until summer, so Andy always drives. He got his license a week after the “event,” after which I ignored his phone calls almost entirely for three days. The one time I did talk to him I said it was because I had to work on his birthday surprise. But then I had to actually plan him a birthday surprise, so that was kind of a bust.

“Oh, shut up,” I reply, hitting him in the arm.

“Hey! Don’t hit the driver!”

I roll my eyes. “I am not a prude. But you are a jerk.”

“I know,” Andy says, beaming. “And you know I’m just messing with you. I think it’s pretty cool that you’re still a virgin, Emma.”

I don’t even respond to that. No one in the world thinks it’s cool that I haven’t had sex yet, except for maybe my parents, and they don’t count. In fact, most of the girls at my school find every excuse they can to offer their advice on the subject. You know, really clever things like, “But what if you don’t like it? Then you’re stuck with the same guy forever,” and, “You have to test drive the car before you buy it!” I’m pretty sure that if those idiots can figure it out, I’ll be just fine.

Andy’s mom Grace is standing by the stove when Andy and I arrive at his house. “Well, hi sweetie!” she says, reaching over to give me a one-armed hug.

“Hi Grace,” I reply as I take a peek into the pot and see a glorious mixture of yellowy
goodness just starting to bubble.

“Cheese dip?” I ask hopefully.

Grace raises an eyebrow. “What else?”

I clap my hands together as though she’s just announced the arrival of Prince William, which would be fitting since Grace looks a lot like a forty-year-old version of Kate Middleton. She’s not very tall, but she’s lean and muscular from years of yoga and running, and she’s got this huge grin that makes her seem impossibly young. Plus, she’s one of the few moms I know— including my own—who doesn’t insist I call her “Miss So-and-So”as though we still live in the nineteenth century. I hate that. No “Miss Grace” around here. Just Grace.

“Give it a few more minutes,” she says, stirring. “You mind getting a bowl for the chips?”

Andy’s way ahead of me. He’s already sitting at the kitchen table snacking away when his older brother Jesse walks into the kitchen and drops his book bag onto the floor without a word.

“Hey Jesse,” I say in a singsong voice. “I saw you today with Lauren Hodges.”

Jesse shoots me a sharp glance as Grace says, “Really?”

“So?” Jesse replies casually. I know he’s trying to pretend it’s no big deal, but everyone
knows Grace would love nothing more than to see Jesse lovesick and forlorn over someone like Lauren Hodges. I don’t think he’s ever even been on a date, though it’s not for lack of options. But Jesse has always struck me as the type of guy who couldn’t care less about high school girls. I bet he has some kind of college hook-up going on, and he’s just letting us think he’s more of a dork than he really is. If not, his best years are being totally wasted in my opinion.

“She’s in my Calculus class,” he continues. “I was helping her with an assignment.”

Grace looks crestfallen but recovers quickly and says, “Oh, that’s nice. Maybe you could invite her over one day and you two could study together.”

Andy snorts. “Yeah, studying’s the only thing they’d be doing.”
I take a seat next to Andy and start nibbling on a tortilla chip. Jesse really doesn’t have much in common with his brother, because Andy is the kind of guy everyone loves to love: girls flirt with him, guys laugh at his jokes, and our teachers would probably let him get away with murder even though he’s just an okay student.

But Jesse stands out in his own kind of way. He manages Andy’s two-member band September Lullaby and does his best to get them gigs at local coffee shops and fairs. He once scored a slot for them at the grand re-opening of the mall in Savannah after it had undergone extensive renovations, but the drummer Elliot, who claims he grew up in Seattle down the street from where Kurt Cobain started Nirvana, got drunk the night before and slept through their set. The mall manager wouldn’t let Andy do it on his own and ended up giving their time slot to a local bakery that got on stage and pimped out their baked goods at half-price to an annoyed yet hungry crowd.

Jesse just kind of blends in, like me. And since everyone likes Andy, everyone likes Jesse by default. But the only thing they actually have in common is their looks.

Jesse rolls his eyes. “Get a new joke.”

“Hey, I’m just trying to help,” Andy replies. “I don’t want you to be a virgin forever.”

Without a word, Jesse scoops a generous amount of cheese dip onto his chip and flings it sharply in Andy’s direction. It makes a long, high arc and lands with a smack on the right side of Andy’s face.
I laugh so hard a piece of chip gets stuck in my throat and I start coughing. The side of Jesse’s mouth turns up a little.

“I don’t know why I ever decided to have children,” Grace huffs as she walks over to check on me.“Especially boys.”
“Because it’s entertaining,” I choke out, wiping away tears.

Andy scowls as he cleans off the cheese with a paper napkin, smearing it across his eyelashes. He looks like he’s wearing bright yellow mascara.

“You’re such a jerk,” he says, but I don’t know if he’s talking to Jesse or to me.


The one thing Andy and I actually have in common is that we both love to read, thank the Lord, since I’ve got about as much musical talent as a ferret. But get me into a bookstore and it practically takes an emergency to get me out. That’s my jam.

Right now, Andy is reading a new novel called, Everything You Never Knew About Everything You Didn’t Know, and he starts talking about it and won’t shut up. “I’m telling you, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read,” he says, flopping obnoxiously into his computer chair and spinning back and forth. “It’s all surreal and...non-linear.”

“Non-linear?” I ask. “Did you get that from your Word-A-Day calendar?”

“You’re just jealous that you didn’t use it first.”

I raise an eyebrow thoughtfully. “Eh. You’re probably right.”

Andy picks up his acoustic and starts to practice some scales. “What are you reading now?”

“I’m still working on this historical romance that would make you want to gouge your
eyes out. But it’s completely addictive. It’s long, too. I kind of don’t want it to end.”

“Sounds like chick lit to me. I thought you had better taste.”

“Oh, shut up. It’s great,” I say, throwing a pillow at him. “Be careful, or I might have to go get the cheese dip.”

“And throw it at me like my idiot brother?”

“Jesse’s not an idiot,” I say. “In fact, I think he’s kind of a genius.”

Andy puts on a pair of fake eyeglasses, the kind that has suddenly become popular even though they serve no purpose whatsoever, and ruffles his short brown hair. In a nasally voice, he mocks his brother:

“Yes sir, I have the answer! The square root of pi is one half the length of a penis that’s never been used.”

“Andy!” I exclaim. “Don’t be a jackass.” He shrugs. “It’s true.”

“What is?”

“Jesse really is a virgin.”

I’m not exactly surprised, but it’s strange to hear Andy say it as fact. Having rarely ever seen Jesse hang out with girls, it makes total sense. But up until then, I’d kind of been feeling like I’d survived a zombie apocalypse. Now it was like I’d finally crossed paths with another survivor and was no longer completely alone in the world.

“Why do you even care?” I ask. “You don’t make that big a deal about me.”

“That’s because you’re a girl,” Andy says, cuffing the bottom of his jeans. “It’s different with girls.”

I cross my arms, waiting for his explanation. “This ought to be good.”

“Girls are supposed to wait longer,” he says matter-of-factly. “Otherwise, they look like sluts.”

“Ohmigod, you did not just say that!”

“It’s true. I didn’t say it was fair. But before you get all femi-nazi on me and cry ‘one- way street’, let me just say that I believe everyone should have equal opportunity to sleep around as much as they want without judgment or consequence.”
“I think I’m going to vomit,” I say, trying hard not to laugh. “How many stereotypes can you perpetuate in one sentence?”

“What can I say?” Andy smiles broadly. “I’m gifted.”

 “I hope you don’t really believe that crap.”

“Which part?”

“All of it,” I reply.

“Well, if I told everyone tomorrow that I lost my virginity in the backseat of some girl’s car, and then you went around and said the same thing about yourself, whose name would pop up all over the interwebs?”

“Mine,” I sigh. “Because then it would sound like I lost my virginity to a girl I barely knew, which would make me both a slut and a lesbian, two things the people of Cley, Georgia, cannot handle.”

Andy chuckles. “I kind of like that idea.”

“Ok, I’m done with this conversation,” I say and turn to scan Andy’s bookshelves for something to read. His ninth grade yearbook is shoved underneath a pile of old textbooks on the bottom, right next to his basket of video games. I pull it out and scan through the pictures of all the girls in our grade, wondering again if Andy told me the truth about the girl he’d hooked up with last fall. It couldn’t have been anyone in our school because Cley is a small town. Everyone knows everyone. But he still hasn’t told me, and I haven’t asked again since.

My yearbook picture is right near the front, and I try to look at it as though I’m seeing it for the very first time. It’s nothing to balk at, but it doesn’t compare to Andy’s. His makes him look like he belongs on the cover of a magazine. His chestnut brown hair is styled so that it looks unintentionally messy, and his dark green eyes are bright and clear, giving him a look that says, “I know I’m gorgeous, but I’m still a nice guy.” Even terrible lighting can’t screw up Andy’s face.

If I had to describe myself, I’d say I fit in somewhere slightly above awkward and just below pretty. I’m taller than every other girl in the tenth grade, but by the grace of God, I somehow managed to escape the horsey look that usually comes with being five foot eight and having no real figure to speak of. I used to get really upset that my girlfriends could fill out their swimsuit tops with chests that bounced like water balloons, but now I’m just grateful that when I’m fifty years old, I’ll still be as perky as I was the day I started wearing an underwire. At least that’s what my mom tells me. It’s really all about perspective, she says.

I keep flipping through the yearbook, thinking back to what Andy said about that night, wondering if maybe I’ve missed something crucial he didn’t want to repeat. No matter how much I replay our conversation in my mind, nothing sticks out besides the fact that Andy told me I probably didn’t even know the girl.

The more I look at the yearbook the more relieved I become that the girl who invited Andy into her backseat (or was it the other way around?) isn’t anyone I know. It would suck to see her at school or to have my own personal copy of her yearbook photo because then I’d be tempted to imagine them together. Not that I haven’t done that already, but right now the girl is faceless. Not knowing her identity makes it easier to pretend the whole thing never happened. It makes it easier to believe Andy and I still have everything in common.

In reality, she should mean nothing to me, especially since Andy doesn’t seem to care too much about her. But I can’t help myself. She does.

“How’s it going over there?” Andy asks, barely looking up from his guitar.

“Good,” I say. “You know, when I’m a senior I think I want to do something different for my yearbook photo.”

“Like one of those up-in-the-air shots?”


“You know, when you jump real high and the photographer catches you midair.”

I make a sound that’s half laugh, half snort. “Yeah, like I’m celebrating my freedom.”

Andy smiles a crooked grin. “Good. And maybe by the time we graduate, you’ll’ve stopped some of this good-girl nonsense and will have had a little fun.”

“I do have fun,” I protest, flipping to the next page. I pause and look up at Andy. “Besides, you’re the one who’s cramping my style.”

Andy rolls his eyes, looking just like Jesse. “Says the girl who can’t drive and doesn’t have sex.”

My Book Review:

The Best Kept Secret is a compelling coming of age story that will pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul.

Author Wendi Nunnery weaves an emotional tale set in Cley, Georgia, that follows the trials and tribulations of fifteen year old high school sophomore Emma Fraser. This is a story that deals with the drama and angst of the high school years, as Emma discovers that she never really knew everything about her friends. From keeping secrets; to teenage rebellion; to young love; to the dreaded dilemma of being a virgin or going all the way; to the traumatic social issue of bullying and suicide; Emma and her friends embark on a journey where they try to navigate the slippery slope of life's experiences with a mixture of innocence, naivety, confidence, insecurity, fragility, strength, ignorance, maturity, pain, heartbreak, hope, and love.

The teenage years can be like a roller coaster ride where teens can experience the full gamut of emotions. For some it can be the best of times, but for others it can be the most difficult time to get through. The Best Kept Secret deals with a variety of relationships during the teenage years (family, friends, etc), and the cause and effect that the teens are exposed to from these relationships. The story has a mixture of rawness, tenderness, and painful reality that will captivate the reader as Emma and her friends stories unfold. The author keeps the reader engaged and wondering what the best kept secret is until the last quarter of the story, and while it is definitely not an easy story to read, it is a powerful story in which the author thoughtfully delves into the importance and reality of a variety of social issues that teens face. I couldn't help but reflect upon memories of my own teenage years, and like Emma, I could relate to a lot of what she went through. I would strongly encourage parents and teens to read this very relevant story.

The Best Kept Secret is a realistic, down to earth, and emotional coming of age story that will stay with you for a very long time.


About The Author

Wendi Nunnery is the author of The Best Kept Secret. She writes about the messiness of life, and sometimes uses colorful language. She's also a big fan of Jesus, coffee, and Harry Potter. Wendi lives, loves, and mothers in Atlanta, Georgia.

Author Website


  1. Thank you SO much for the lovely review! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Hi Wendi! Thank you for the opportunity to read and review your wonderful book! :)