Summary: Blay Raytee is an orphan living in a Committee (or government) work camp. Her life changes one day when she is chosen to be the tutor/maid for the new Bio-Indicator, Marrella. Living with Marrella gives Blay a chance to become part of a community and also allows her a chance to figure out the secrets of her past, something Blay is reluctant to give up when she realises her time with Marrella is coming to an end.
Number of Pages: 238
Age Range: 13-14
Review: Janet McNaughton goes from Scotland circa 1164 in An Earthly Knight to a dystopian Canada circa 2368 in The Secret Under My Skin. As with any futuristic novel one of the challenges an author faces is fully immersing their reader into a new dystopic society while providing sufficient explanation as to how the world got that way.
McNaughton’s glimpse into a technology-phobic society affected by climate change is complicated yet intriguing. While I was a bit puzzled by how all of the different sects fit together, I liked the return to handmade wares that a lack of technology would require. Having a homemade knitted sweater serve as a love token from a guy to a girl he likes was my favourite.
Reading The Secret Under My Skin reminded me of similar books like Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood and Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue, but McNaughton makes it her own by showing the struggle to return to using technology and to reorganize a democratic society.
This book is suitable for younger teen readers.
“In St. Pearl, there was a black-and-white hologram on the streets for a while, advertising something. The black part looked like the outline of some kind of vessel but if you looked long enough, the white part looked like the outline of two faces almost touching. Reality now seems like that hologram. The truth could be what the warders told me, or it could be what Erica says, but, unlike the hologram, it can’t be both.” – Blay from The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton, page 78
“I shake my head. ‘I can’t imagine what she wants.’ Then I remember the look on her face when William rejected her the day we set out for the Tablelands. ‘Maybe she’s just looking for a place to belong, like the rest of us.'” – Blay from The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton, page 157
“‘Maybe. But Fraser, will there ever be a time when there are no kids like Violet? Or kids like Hilary who need love so badly that they have to steal it? Will there ever be a time when kids get all the love they need?'” – Blay from The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton, page 236