Dirty Little Secret

Dirty Little Secret - Jennifer Echols Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!In my and the book's defense, I thought I was getting Dirty Little Secrets - a very closely-titled YA novel about mental issues and hoarding. Instead, Echols's later-released Dirty Little Secret is about music, and boys, and bitterness. I have friends who love Echols' novels, and friends who aren't fans. I might have to join the latter group, based on my experience with this book. I can clearly see why people would and will like Dirty Little Secret, but I can't join them in that enthusiasm. I also think this novel might fall under the heading of the "New Adult" label as Bailey's age and vocabulary fit more in that area than in a truly YA novel.Bailey is pretty unlikeable character, and speaking stereotypically, that's fine. I can do unlikeable characters, even schadenfreude-ly enjoy them - if they're interesting, or justified in being so difficult (see: all of Courtney Summers's books). Unfortunately for Bailey, her 'tude and the reasons behind it didn't ring true for me. First of all: I don't buy that anyone's parents could be so blatantly biased towards one child at the expense of the other. Their actions, and Bailey's reactions, had me disconnecting from this novel early on. I also didn't think Bailey was as much of a badass as she clearly thought. Sorry hon, hair dye and a few piercings =/= toughness. Her arrogance, and her presentation made Bailey a hard sell for me from the first page. I grew less and less interested in her and the plot as the pages went on.Once the reason for Bailey's familiar exodus was revealed.. I rolled my eyes. That was my big reaction to the big event and subsequent drama.Seriously - what an overreaction - for everyone involved. Like I said before, the interactions between Bailey, her sister and her parents didn't come off as authentic. The separation serves as a way to have Bailey on her own without using Missing Parent Syndrome, but it feels too cheap and easy. She's 18 -- she could have easily moved out early, or been preparing for college, etc. The ridiculous "tension" and reasons for it just didn't work.I must admit that the music aspect of the novel is fairly strong. It's obvious that the author loves music, and the one thing that was authentic for Bailey's characterization was how she felt about bluegrass, and playing her fiddle. Her summer job playing with various cover bands showcases Bailey's talent in different areas, but it mainly serves as a meet-cute for her love interest, try-hard badboy/heartbreaker Sam. Sam, ooohh Sam. Another character I was supposed to be interested by, but was completely bored whenever he was around. Too pushy, too wannabe, and too cliche for me, Sam added nothing to Dirty Little Secret. The ups and downs of their relationship just felt calculated, following an obvious trajectory to a predictable outcome.This isn't a bad book. It's just not as good as it could've been. The characters need more dimension, the plot more originality, the themes more nuance. It all just feels so rehashed or shortchanged. I've read variations of this book so many times before. The one thing that works, that stands out, is the bluegrass music, but that never held as much focus as it should have. I obviously didn't care for it, hence the two stars, but what doesn't work for me might fit perfectly for others. If you're a fan of Echols' previous work, I'm sure this will be a hit. If you're a newbie or on the fence about trying this author, this might not end up being the book for you.