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Can a bully change? This P.E.I. author hopes to give answers

"Can Tage be true to herself and her attraction to Wren without sacrificing her friendships?"
 
Angel Jendrick published her first young adult romance novel, “Secret Me”, on April 4, 2023. It explores gender identity, sexual orientation and how they can affect relationships.
Angel Jendrick published her first young adult romance novel, “Secret Me”, on April 4, 2023. It explores gender identity, sexual orientation and how they can affect relationships. Photo by Ezra Santana.
 

Secret Me by Angel Jendrick

 

Angel Jendrick was only 10 years old when she started writing short mysteries to share with her grandparents.

She started writing her first book, which ended up becoming a series, when she was about 15 years old and living in a group home.

“Everyone else was getting in trouble and I was just sitting there writing. It was my saving grace for many years, and it adapted as I got older,” said Jendrick.

Jendrick took a writing course in high school and even won a leadership award.

“And there was one story that I went around and read to classes. Looking back, I’m like yeah, it wasn’t my best, but yeah.”

Jendrick’s first book, “Claim Me”, an adult romance and part of her “Claiming Kristopher” series, was published in 2016. She has since written four other books for the same series, as well as a 2SLGBTQIA+ young adult romance novel, “Secret Me”.

It follows the life of teenager Tage, who is part of her high school’s most popular clique. Wren, a non-binary student at Tage’s school, has been a victim of her incessant bullying.

After giving Wren a ride during a snowstorm, Tage is forced to confront her feelings and decide to either abandon the life she has always known or continue to hide her true self.  

"Secret Me" follows the life of teenager Tage as she navigates her conflicting feelings for her non-binary schoolmate, Wren.
"Secret Me" follows the life of teenager Tage as she navigates her conflicting feelings for her non-binary schoolmate, Wren. Photo by Ezra Santana.

Jendrick was picked on and bullied a lot as a teen, so she related to Wren’s character.

“I wanted to see if the bully could change, you know? And there’s not a lot of literature on the Island for queer youth."

Although the book is aimed at a teenage audience, many adults told her they enjoyed the story.

One of them was 34-year-old Lacey Simmons, who said “Secret Me” was a compelling novel about self-discovery and acceptance.

“Jendrick successfully portrays the protagonists’ struggles with her sexual orientation, balancing cheerleading with unaccepting friends, all while capturing the essence of Charlottetown,” she said.

Simmons said she highly recommends the book to any youth exploring their identities.

“The story is both heart-warming and informative, tackling family dynamics, sexual identity and the pursuit of authenticity.”

Another adult who enjoyed the book was 33-year-old Jasmine White, who said they weren’t sure they would connect with the story when they first picked it up.

“As I read through it, it was quite interesting because I could connect with both characters from different times of my life,” said White.

White first connected with Tage for being attracted to somebody society deemed they shouldn’t be and fearing losing friends and family over it.

They also related to Wren’s non-binary identity and wish the book was available when they were in high school.

“I think Angel has done a lovely job of allowing anyone to be able to connect or to understand, see a little bit more of what we go through in the LGBTQIA spectrum, but also anyone who has struggled with feeling like they might lose someone based on being their authentic self. Whoever, whatever that may be.”

One of the teens who read the novel, Ava, said she re-read it a few times and really recommends it to those interested in a queer romance based in a realistic setting.

“I found that the book ‘Secret Me’ really allowed readers to see a side of the characters we don’t usually see… that more imperfect side, which is more of a characteristic and thing in real people. Everybody has faults, but I find some books tend to only show the good parts of characters without showing big mistakes that can really have a negative effect on others.”

Ava said she enjoyed the character development in the book.

“I found that the story kept my attention. I really wanted to know what happened next,” she said.

“Secret Me” is Jendrick’s first traditionally published book.

“I have personal achievements for it, but also to spread the word and hopefully reach somebody that needs to see it, you know?”

She wants to continue to write and learn from each book, as well as take writing courses in the future.

“There’s just so much more that I can do. There’s so much more I have to say.”

Jendrick is currently working on an adult sapphic romance novel to be released in 2024, titled “For The 1000th Time”.

 
"'This doesn't mean I forgive you. Not yet, but I'm willing to try.'" (p. 79)
 

Secret Me | Angel Jendrick | 176 pp. | Lorimer | CA$14.95

 

"Charlottetown teen Tage seems to have it all: she hangs out with the school’s most popular clique and has a handsome boyfriend. She’s also living a lie about her sexuality.

Wren, a nonbinary schoolmate, has been the victim of bullying by Tage’s clique. This leaves Tage racked with guilt because she’s always been drawn to Wren. When Tage picks up Wren during a snowstorm and they are forced to spend a night together, their true feelings emerge.

With Wren’s support, Tage has to decide whether to come out to celebrate herself and her new relationship and risk many of her friendships."

 

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Hey, thanks for stopping by!

My name is Ezra (they/them) and I’m an aspiring storyteller who is half-way through a Journalism and Communications program at Holland College, P.E.I. 

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