Secrets and Dreams by Jean Ure

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Secrets and Dreams by Jean Ure

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Zoe is in the awkward position of knowing a secret about her friend Rachel at her new school, but also needing to fit in the crowd who have taken against Rachel. It kept me up way past my bedtime!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: January 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007553952

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When Mum and Dad won the lottery thirteen year old Zoe and eleven year old Natalie were given the chance to choose something big which they really wanted. Natalie chose to have a pony (and there was a puppy too, but no one was counting) and Zoe decided that she really wanted to go to boarding school. Dad - particularly - wasn't keen on the idea, in case Zoe would have to mix with posh people, but eventually he came round and Zoe started at St Withburga's - and just chance you're thinking of jokes about cheeseburgas, Nat got there before you.

Things might have worked out differently if Nat hadn't passed her chicken pox on and made her a week late starting school. Just by chance there was another boarder (who was the same age as Zoe who'd also had chicken pox) starting on the same day and Zoe and Rachel were, well, thrown together. But Rachel was strange, almost other-worldly and there was something about her background - her home life - that she wasn't talking about. The other girls in the dorm weren't exactly unkind, but Rachel's lack of dress sense, her constant giggles and embarrassing ways got to them and when she let them down over a play they were performing battle lines were drawn. But Rachel's aunt had told Zoe the story of Rachel's past and made her promise not to tell.

Zoe wasn't exactly keen to be Rachel's best friend and there were occasions when she resented the fact that Nat had given her chicken pox: if she hadn't been late starting school she and Rachel might not have been thrown together. The 'Rachel problem' wouldn't have been dropped on her toes. But Zoe has a great sense of fairness which she realised meant more than just loyalty to friends and she knew that somehow she had to keep Rachel's secret AND ensure that the other girls were fair to her. There was an additional problem for Zoe - she was the new girl and needed to 'fit in', but still be true to her own values.

Here at Bookbag we love Jean Ure: she writes the most wonderful, thought-provoking stories, particularly for tween girls. I really couldn't see how Secrets and Dreams was going to work out - a rather messy and unpleasant situation looked almost inevitable - but Ure's ending was satisfying without being unrealistic and I'll confess that I was still reading at well past my bedtime to find out what happened to Zoe and Rachel. The target age range for the book is nine plus, which seems reasonable given that a little maturity is required to appreciate the nuances of the story, but I'd imagine that many a young teen would enjoy the book as much as I did.

We'd like to thank Jean Ure for sending a copy to the Bookbag. We're grateful that she always remembers us!

In 2014 we really enjoyed Jean Ure's Jelly Baby which deals with vegetarianism.

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Buy Secrets and Dreams by Jean Ure at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets and Dreams by Jean Ure at


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