ARC: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. A quick note that I’m a bit confused about the publication date of this book. As far as I can tell it was originally published in 2017 and is being re-released. NetGalley says the new edition came out September 1st, while Goodreads says it comes out November 15th. So basically you can buy a copy of this book right now, but I’m not exactly sure which edition you’ll receive. I also don’t know if the 2017 text differs in any way from the 2019 edition.

The premise of this book hooked me immediately: Jemma, a sixteen-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy who cannot speak or move, learns the identity of a killer—from the killer himself. When her health aid goes missing, it’s up to Jemma to alert people to the culprit’s identity, despite the punishing limitations of her disability.

The language of this book is very simple and straightforward. If you are looking for a lyrical read, this is not it. However, there is a poignancy to this book; you cannot help but root for Jemma, who has little to no communication with any of her family members. Not only does she have a killer to wrangle with, but she is also a teenage girl dealing with a health condition that can cause those around her to treat her as if she is of less than a clear mind. It will be a long time before I forget the humiliating scene where her new carer treats Jemma like a toddler, rather than the clear-headed teenager that she is.

I also really enjoyed reading about Jemma’s family members. She has a unique family—Jemma’s two sibling are both foster children dealing with their own problems. I enjoyed the way her parents were written; her mom and dad are very supportive of Jemma, and they have their own personalities and flaws.

If the language of the book were a bit more lyrical, this likely would have been a five-star book. I found this book quite riveting, reading it in little more than a day. I knew next to nothing about cerebral palsy, and I think this quick thriller is a great way to gain some insight into the condition.

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