Keep it Like a Secret by John David Anderson Blog Tour

Once again, I'm thrilled to read and review a new John David Anderson middle grade novel - even in the craziness that accompanies the end of a school year!

About the Book (from the publisher)

From the first moment Morgan can remember, Claire has always been there. Big sister and little brother. Cat and Mouse. They’ve always understood each other, saved each other, seen each other. And they stuck to their own personal code, unwritten but understood, that siblings were inseparable, that they had each other’s backs, no matter what.

At least, they used to.

Somewhere along the line, things between them shifted. Claire started fighting more with Mom, storming out of the house, spending more and more time away, and Morgan felt his sister and best friend slipping away. Now he spends nearly every night sitting awake in his room, waiting for the sound of her key in the lock.

It’s a sound he hasn’t heard in nearly a week, ever since her and Mom’s worst fight ever. So when Claire finally calls and tells Morgan she wants to spend the day together, just the two of them, he knows this might be his only chance—not just to convince her to come home, but to remind her how good things used to be, and could be again.

But Claire has her own plan for the day. One that will mean that, no matter what happens, things between them are going to change forever.

My Thoughts: 

Keep it Like a Secret is a poignant tale of sibling love and the challenge of feeling that relationship change as the older sibling reaches adulthood. We have the inside track from Morgan's point of view as he struggles to try to hold onto the family dynamics of his younger years. We experience the current fracturing between his sister and mother, interspersed with flashback glimpses of an early childhood event that shows us that things have really always been charged between Claire and his mother. 

Even though I'm an oldest sibling, I identified strongly with Morgan. Conflict has always been my nemesis and, just like Morgan, I've struggled my whole life with learning when to try to mediate and when to step back and know that fractures in the bedrock are part of how the world changes. Morgan muses, early in the book, that if you "Put enough pressure on anything over time and it will crack". That is certainly true for his family. It made me think of geologic processes, though. Those massive cracks occur as the tectonic plates shift -- and the end result can be catastrophic earthquakes. Over the long view, though, those same processes can create new formations - like beautiful islands. Considering this doesn't make me any more comfortable with conflict, but it helps me understand why some people need it to create something new for their lives. 

This book would be a great one to use for a discussion group. I could totally go down a rabbit hole tying geologic processes and the rock cycle to the story -- but conversation could also include looking deeply at how Morgan and Claire react so differently to their family dynamics and what that reveals about them and their nature. There is a discussion guide, too, if you'd like to use those ideas to deepen students' understanding.  It includes wonderful questions to help students make connections, read between the lines of the story, and extend to creative activities. 

Overall, this is a wonderful story for middle grade readers. Definitely check it out and add it to your TBR and your personal libraries!

About the Author

John David Anderson is the author of more than a dozen beloved and bestselling books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, One Last Shot, Stowaway, Riley’s Ghost, and many more. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his ever-patient wife and two ornery cats, MJ and Parker, in Indianapolis, IN. You can visit him online at

Check out other books by John David Anderson that I've posted about on my blog:

Homebound (sequel to Stowaway)
One Last Shot
Finding Orion
Dungeoneers (Q&A) . Dungeoneers (fun author post)
Sidekicked (review) . Sidekicked (fun author post)

14-May Nerdy Book Club. @nerdybookclub

16-May Teachers Who Read. @teachers_read

17-May. Lit Coach Lou. @litcoachlou

20-May  Maria's Mélange. @mariaselke

21-May. A Library Mama. @alibrarymama

22-May. Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers  @grgenius

26-May. Bluestocking Thinking. @bluesockgirl

Note: I received free access to an ebook of this novel prior to release. 


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