This Secret We’re Keeping by Rebecca Done

Well, what a secret!

A 15 year old student, Jess Hart, and her 25 year old maths teacher, Matthew Langley, embark on a secret affair. Make no mistake, the consequences should their relationship be discovered would be disastrous; Matthew’s teaching career would be ruined forever, and he would face criminal prosecution and imprisonment as a paedophile. Yet still, Matthew, as the adult, gives in to Jess’s advances, knowing full well he should know better. The ‘devil’s advocate’ in what is straightforward in the eyes of the law, is that Jess is not presented as a naive and innocent victim of a predatory older male abusing his position of responsibility, quite the contrary, and she is just a few months short of 16 when their relationship will no longer be illegal. Yet Jess does come from a background of poor parental rolemodels, alcohol abuse and general emotional neglect suggesting that Matthew, as the teacher, should have been able to provide the boundaries and stability she lacked, and that she needed.

Told from the perspectives of both Jess and Matthew/Will using time slots from both before and after discovery, I found this a very thought provoking and rather sad and tragic tale; a doomed love affair, or predatory grooming of the worst sort?

There are other numerous secrets which all stem from this original event, all of them destructive and life-changing, as we witness the ripple effect down through the years.

A very good, if at times a bit laboured, read which comes highly recommended!

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