Monday, September 19, 2011

Keeping Secrets by Barbara Ehrentreau

My guest today is Barbara Ehrentreau, author of If I Could be Like Jennifer Taylor, available now at MuseItUp Publishing.

Keeping Secrets

In the YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, the main character, Carolyn Samuels, has to keep a lot of secrets from her friends and family. Have you ever had to keep a secret? What was the reason?

Carolyn finds herself in the middle of a very bad situation. She learns a terrible secret about the mean girl who has been bullying her since middle school and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Jennifer Taylor, the mean girl, is no one to cross. So Carolyn starts doing things she would never do. She winds up doing things for Jennifer and she lies to her parents and her best friends. Yet she keeps the secret.

Should she have kept Jennifer’s secret? Maybe she should have told someone. If you find a person who has a serious problem, when is it right to tell on them so they can get help? Are you being helpful by keeping that person’s secret or are you hurting them by keeping the secret?

As the author I felt I had a responsibility to write this story as true to life as possible. In my own life I have had to keep secrets. Sometimes these secrets were very painful, yet my friend or relative depended upon me keeping that secret for them. I felt I could not let them down. Carolyn goes through a lot of soul searching about the secret and in the process of keeping the secret winds up needing to cover up more and more of her own activities to protect the secret. In other words, needing to keep the secret caused a series of events associated with the secret. None of the things that happen to Carolyn happened to me, and also I was a little older than she. But she does have some pretty tempting moments when all she needed to do was reveal Jennifer’s secret and her life would go back to normal.

Does she give Jennifer’s secret away and face the consequences or does she keep it? All the answers are in If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor the debut YA novel available at MuseItUp Publishing 16th as an e-book. You may get more details here:

Also please visit Barbara Ehrentreu’s blog:



Please leave a comment about your own experience with secrets to be in the drawing to win a free book when it is published.

Barbara Ehrentreu, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was inspired by Paula Danziger. Barbara is a NY Literature Examiner for with several articles for them. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?


  1. Hi Rochelle,
    Thank you for hosting me today. I have been so involved with launching my new book and in the MG/YA Blog-A-Thon continuing on my blog and others today. This is a great post and your blog is beautiful. I love red!!

  2. You're so welcome Barbara.

    As for keeping secrets, I think whether or not one should keep a secret depends on the secret. In Jennifer's case, well... One would need to read the book to decide. I haven't read it, but I think I know what her secret is and what I would do. But it makes a difference being sixty and being fourteen.

    As I said, it depends on the secret. Would divulging or not divulging the secret hurt or help someone? I edited an author who is gay and lives in the South in the closet. Will I ever tell anyone his real name? No. His community is bigoted and homophobic.

    When celebrities started announcing they were in AA, an old-timer in the Program got really upset. I asked why since it was only their own anonymity they were breaking. He said, "They're doing fine now, but if they relapse it makes AA look bad." I was in Overeaters Anonymous at the time and I remembered that when I relapsed and reached 300 pounds. I'd been so proud of being a member when I was losing weight. I wasn't such a great poster girl when I stopped following the Program and regained it all plus another hundred. Now I attribute my miraculous weight loss to celiac disease. My allergy to wheat has kept me from cheating. Gluten-free pasta and bakery goods are too expensive to binge on.

    In the Twelve Step Programs, there's a saying-- "You're only as sick as your secrets." There are no Carolyn's in my life having to choose whether or not to keep my secrets. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my beliefs on my bumper.

    Again, thanks for visiting my blog and giving us all something to think about.

  3. Gawd, high school can be treacherous. I was never popular, I was never not popular. I sort of languished in the middle, attracting only a small amount of interest. But I knew a few Jennifers and Carolyns and I would have loved knowing their secrets!

  4. I was in the same position as Heather, neither popular or unpopular. I attended an all girls high school so this made for lots of secrets between girls as there was little chance of the secrets being passed on to boys. I think this situation is so true to life. Well done Barbara for writing about this difficult subject.

  5. Teenage girls just love secrets and I'm sure this will be a very popular book, Barbara. I'm looking forward to reading it too and I'm well past my teens! Don't think I've had to keep an important secret in real life, but my first historical novel (published in May) was full of secrets and deception!

  6. Heather and Sue I was in the same position in high school. I was actually friendly with several popular people and felt a little envy like Carolyn. It was only when I went to my 40th reunion and talked with one of the "popular" girls that she told me she had really loved hanging out with me.:)

    Rosemary, thank you and I hope so too. When you read it I hope you post a review on the Muse page or on Amazon. I need to do that for so many books and will soon.

    Again, Rochelle, your answer was quite intense and I agree it depends on the secret and the consequences of telling it. I have had to keep some secrets for people that if they got out might have caused them great embarrassment.