Book Review – Queen of Secrets

Queen of Secrets

By Jenny Meyerhoff (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010)

This young adult novel, loosely based on the Book of Esther, revolves around 15-year-old Essie Green, who wants desperately for her sophomore year in high school to be different. She’s just made the varsity cheerleading squad so she could be noticed by football star Austin King. But when her cousin Micah moves back to her Michigan town and brings his observant ways with him, Essie questions who she is and what is right.

The good stuff

  • “True” depiction–Book of Esther aside, it’s just a really great “true” read. I was transported back to my high school days.
  • Ethical struggle–Mirrors what many teens might be feeling and how they struggle with ethics
  • Complex characters–Essie isn’t the only character who transforms. I expected Austin to be stereotypical and he wasn’t
  • The issues of grandparent adoption and custody battle–A nice addition to the story that presents a nontraditional family (in both the structural and religious sense)
  • Hazing–With the recent headlines of college student suicides catalyzed by hazing and bullying, this is a timely treatment of the topic

The not-so-good stuff

  • Link to the Book of Esther–Was it necessary? The book could have stood on its own without this.
  • Inconsistent sophistication and freshness of language–Cliched phrases and vague writing stopped me cold


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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7 Responses to Book Review – Queen of Secrets

  1. This book was widely reviewed and almost every reviewer mentioned The Book of Esther; was it an integral part of the plot or part of the publisher’s PR package to gain a Jewish audience? I would have appreciated some quotes from the book to illustrate Krasner’s comments about language, because it was not clear to me how this impacted on the book.

    • I intentionally do not read other reviews of the books I review. I take an independent view. Either you like my style of review or you don’t–that’s every reader’s choice.

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  3. Jew Wishes says:

    I thought your review was well written, contrasting the “good” with the “not so good”.

  4. Heidi Estrin says:

    Barbara, I like how you analyze things so clearly.
    I liked The Queen of Secrets, and thought the Queen Esther twist was interesting if not crucial to understanding the modern version of the story.

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