Reviewed by Emily Battaglia, age 17
The Poetry of Secrets by Cambria Gordon
Set in the tumultuous 15th century Spain, The Poetry of Secrets explores the struggle of 16-year-old Isabel Perez as she navigates a whirlwind romance, a perilous faith, and her position as a woman in a society where girls are discouraged from writing poetry.
From the very first line, The Poetry of Secrets pulls the reader into 1481 Trujillo, Spain, a dire time in history, often overlooked in comparison to the stories of medieval knights and Renaissance artists. The atmosphere of rampant religious altercation was indeed heartbreaking, yet masterfully written to shed light on each individual and their distinct journey with faith that evolved as the novel progressed. The Poetry of Secrets is a tale of the Spanish Inquisition far more personal that the few lines and dates referenced in dull history textbooks. It digs deep into themes of identity surrounding religion—and class, as well. Family ties and gender expectations are dutifully explored and shine despite the romance. The cliche, unrealistic components of the love story seemed childish at times in the face of bigger themes that the novel could have spent more time on. Despite this, The Poetry of Secrets highlights steadfast devotion and perseverance in a dark era that I can’t help but admire.
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