The book I received was an autographed copy of "The Secret Year" by Jennifer R. Hubbard.
I devoured this book. I read it in a single sitting. It's not the sort of book that I would necessarily have picked up on my own - it's YA, written in first person, and features a male MC, Colt. As soon as I started reading, though, I was drawn in.
From the back cover:
Julia and Colt were together for a year, but nobody knew of their secret love. Then Julia dies, and Colt's life spirals out of control. He is haunted by her memory, and things only intensify when her journal falls into his hands. Can Colt bring himself to read Julia's diary? Or will he live without answers to his burning questions about a romance that changed him forever?
Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly. Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year and no one, not even Julia's boyfriend knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can't mourn Julia openly, and he's tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia's journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he's desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?
The Goodreads summary is a better version of what the book is actually about. I'm impressed by Hubbard's skills - even though I have virtually nothing in common with Colt, I felt like I could understand what was going on inside his mind. Sure, it helped that the book was written in first person, but there was an empathy that developed. At the same time, Colt and the other characters drove me crazy. I swear, my friends and I weren't that dumb in high school, but when I look at some of the teenagers I know now, I can believe that they would do the same sort of stupid things that the kids in this book do.
The ending wasn't a happy one in a traditional sense, but it was a good one - a realistic one, though it made me wish that I could go talk to this kid and tell him he was being an idiot. Of course, given the choices that I've made in my life, I'm probably not one to talk. Then again, maybe I would be the right one to give advice.
Anyway. The point is, I really enjoyed this book. If you're a YA fan, or you enjoy books that lean towards the realistic rather than idealistic, you should consider picking this one up.