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The Poetry of Secrets

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Perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein, this lyrical portrait of hidden identities and forbidden love is set against the harrowing backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition. Isabel Perez carries secrets with her every day. As a young woman in 1481, Trujillo, Spain, Isabel should be overjoyed that the alguacil of the city wants to marry her. She is supposed to be flatt Perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein, this lyrical portrait of hidden identities and forbidden love is set against the harrowing backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition. Isabel Perez carries secrets with her every day. As a young woman in 1481, Trujillo, Spain, Isabel should be overjoyed that the alguacil of the city wants to marry her. She is supposed to be flattered especially because she and her family are conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism -- leaving them low in the hierarchy of the new Spanish order. But, although she can't tell anyone, she only has eyes for Diego Altamirano, a young nobleman whose family would never let him court Isabel. So for now she sneaks out to attend poetry readings, for she longs to one day be a famous poet...another secret wish that may never come true. But Isabel's most dangerous secret is this: Though the Perezes claim to be New Christians, they still practice Judaism in the refuge of their own home. When the Spanish Inquisition reaches Trujillo determined to punish such judaizers, Isabel finds herself in more danger than she ever could have imagined. Amidst the bloodshed and intolerance, she and Diego will have to fight for their lives in a quest to truly be free.


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Perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein, this lyrical portrait of hidden identities and forbidden love is set against the harrowing backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition. Isabel Perez carries secrets with her every day. As a young woman in 1481, Trujillo, Spain, Isabel should be overjoyed that the alguacil of the city wants to marry her. She is supposed to be flatt Perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein, this lyrical portrait of hidden identities and forbidden love is set against the harrowing backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition. Isabel Perez carries secrets with her every day. As a young woman in 1481, Trujillo, Spain, Isabel should be overjoyed that the alguacil of the city wants to marry her. She is supposed to be flattered especially because she and her family are conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism -- leaving them low in the hierarchy of the new Spanish order. But, although she can't tell anyone, she only has eyes for Diego Altamirano, a young nobleman whose family would never let him court Isabel. So for now she sneaks out to attend poetry readings, for she longs to one day be a famous poet...another secret wish that may never come true. But Isabel's most dangerous secret is this: Though the Perezes claim to be New Christians, they still practice Judaism in the refuge of their own home. When the Spanish Inquisition reaches Trujillo determined to punish such judaizers, Isabel finds herself in more danger than she ever could have imagined. Amidst the bloodshed and intolerance, she and Diego will have to fight for their lives in a quest to truly be free.

30 review for The Poetry of Secrets

  1. 4 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    Review forthcoming for the book tour ;)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rivalie

    2.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Haddad

    One of my favorite books of the year! I am in emotional heaven. This is such a wonderfully evocative and poignant recount of such a dark period in human history. It’s heart-breaking, it’s romantic, and it’s so very very exciting. Filled with intricate and beautiful characters, historical intrigue, and a thrilling forbidden romance. Gordon has brought history to life amongst these pages. I LOVED Isabel. I felt so much for her struggles, her dreams and desires. It was like I knew her and throughou One of my favorite books of the year! I am in emotional heaven. This is such a wonderfully evocative and poignant recount of such a dark period in human history. It’s heart-breaking, it’s romantic, and it’s so very very exciting. Filled with intricate and beautiful characters, historical intrigue, and a thrilling forbidden romance. Gordon has brought history to life amongst these pages. I LOVED Isabel. I felt so much for her struggles, her dreams and desires. It was like I knew her and throughout the book I desperately wished for all of her secret wishes to come true. The writing and research in this book was so phenomenal. I know it will stick with me and these characters will be in my heart for a very long time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate Waggoner

    @KidLitExchange Thank you to @Scholasticinc for sharing an advance copy of The Poetry of Secrets by Cambria Gordon with the #KidLitExchange Network. This YA historical fiction novel will be published on 2/2/21. All opinions are my own. It is 1481 and the Inquisition has reached Trujillo, Spain. Isabel Perez and her family are conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. They have been baptized and attend church, but secretly carrying on their Jewish traditions at home which is now more danger @KidLitExchange Thank you to @Scholasticinc for sharing an advance copy of The Poetry of Secrets by Cambria Gordon with the #KidLitExchange Network. This YA historical fiction novel will be published on 2/2/21. All opinions are my own. It is 1481 and the Inquisition has reached Trujillo, Spain. Isabel Perez and her family are conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. They have been baptized and attend church, but secretly carrying on their Jewish traditions at home which is now more dangerous than ever. In an attempt to secure their safety, Isabel's father arranges for her to marry the alguacil of the city. The alguacil is much older than Isabel and ugly both inside and out. To complicate matters further, Isabel has fallen in love with Diego Altamirano, a young nobleman whose family would never let him court Isabel. Isabel begins sneaking out to meet Diego, but soon her sister becomes suspicious, her parents are questioned by the Holy Office, and a mysterious man, most likely a spy, is keeping watch outside her home. Soon, Isabel finds herself in more danger than she could have ever imagined. The Poetry of Secrets is a beautifully written and lyrical historical fiction novel. One of my favorite things about it is that it introduces YA readers to a time period that kind of gets glossed over in history classes in the U.S. education system. I found the historical aspects of the novel absolutely fascinating. It is incredibly well-researched. The story and conflicts are intricate and captivating. I love the integration of poetry. One of Isabel's dreams is to become a poet and poetry is woven throughout the novel. I also enjoyed that the novel alternates between Isabel and Diego's perspectives. The majority of the book is written through Isabel's eyes, but the moments we get from Diego give a deeper understanding of the cultural and societal divides of the time period. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to share it with others.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ele #FreePalestine

    No one expects the Spainish Inquisition! Tasteless jokes aside, this was a satisfying historical fiction novel - and my standards are very high, so that says something. It did a very good job at creating the atmosphere of Medieval Spain, and the religious discourse was beautiful. I think it would've done better without the romance, and I much preffered reading about Eva's religious developement. The historical language was executed with tact and elegancy, and I liked that it didn't water down his No one expects the Spainish Inquisition! Tasteless jokes aside, this was a satisfying historical fiction novel - and my standards are very high, so that says something. It did a very good job at creating the atmosphere of Medieval Spain, and the religious discourse was beautiful. I think it would've done better without the romance, and I much preffered reading about Eva's religious developement. The historical language was executed with tact and elegancy, and I liked that it didn't water down historical values. My main issue with this book were some annoying pieces of historical inaccuracy. While I can't speak for all of it, as Medieval Spain is not a major area of knowledge for me, there were some things that irked me. First off, in most eras and countries, women were allowed to write - maybe not always be published, but they were still allowed to write and it was not looked down upon. The best example I can think of in classical literature discussing views of on women and writing is The Crab-Flower Club, which is set in mid-1700s China (you should be reading it anyway, it's glorious). The second issue is that I hate to see the return of the 'sewing = sexist' trope. Yes, embroidery was very much a women's pasttime, but it wasn't the oppresive hobby it is always depicted to be. First off, women were allowed in many activities considered 'manly', such as hunting, while many men were tailors. I even know of a fair few paintings from the exact era in Spainish history of men cutting fabric. In fact, this novel even features a male tailor - so why it has to show sewing as a symbol of oppresion, I do not know. Finally, I am just super annoyed that this book mistook Michelangelo for being older than Leonardo da Vinci. If you're going to mention these icons, please, get the timeline right. It hurts my soul not to. Despite the rant, I really enjoyed this story, and any looking for a good Jewish historical fiction that is not about WWII will enjoy this, or any looking for a proper historical fiction that doesn't feel the need to dumb history down for its audience. Content Warnings Antisemitism, child marriage, violence/burning, attempted rape, mentions of prostution, torture (somewhat graphic - inc waterboarding). I would say 16+ at minimum due to the nature of the content and explicitness.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    Set in 1481 Spain at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, this book is written for 12 year-olds (grade 7) and up. It's a love story, a tale of friendship and disappointment, and fiction set in Trujillo as Torquemada leads the church toward intolerance. This period in Spain is full of intolerance particularly against Jewish converts to Christianity who are still practicing Jewish rituals and rites. It's also a period of persecution of Muslims who have converted. Scenes of the Auto-de-fe and tor Set in 1481 Spain at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, this book is written for 12 year-olds (grade 7) and up. It's a love story, a tale of friendship and disappointment, and fiction set in Trujillo as Torquemada leads the church toward intolerance. This period in Spain is full of intolerance particularly against Jewish converts to Christianity who are still practicing Jewish rituals and rites. It's also a period of persecution of Muslims who have converted. Scenes of the Auto-de-fe and torture are graphic and recounted more than once. "The Poetry of Secrets" is falls squarely in the fiction camp. The story's basic outline is fine, although the author stretches the reader's belief that teenage girls would have the freedom of the city without supervision. She also skirts over the fact the Jews weren't able to travel freely or easily to most places in Europe or throughout the Mediterranean basin. I'm giving this a 3.5 for anachronism and historic imprecision. While the author states in the afterword that she moved the date for Easter Massacre in Rossio Square in Lisbon (Portugal) from 1508 to 1482. In addition, she has a character early suggest they could escape to the New World. Unfortunately, the New World wasn't "discovered" until 1492, 11 years after the book was set. It's one thing to adjust a timeline, it's another to be historically incorrect. From then on, I questioned the author's grasp of Jewish history. The list of "further reading" is useful for readers who want to learn more about the period. Thanks to the BookLoft of German Village (Columbus, OH) http://www.bookloft.com for an ARC to read and review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dina E

    Poetry of Secrets was so thought provoking and I loved it! It was such an emotional rollercoaster and there was such a good discussion on faith. It follows the story of Isabel, a young woman from a family of conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. Isabel was such a relatable character and I really enjoyed her growth. I loved the character depth in this story, especially the family dynamics. There was a lot of growth throughout the novel and it had a very consistent pace. Cambria Gordon d Poetry of Secrets was so thought provoking and I loved it! It was such an emotional rollercoaster and there was such a good discussion on faith. It follows the story of Isabel, a young woman from a family of conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. Isabel was such a relatable character and I really enjoyed her growth. I loved the character depth in this story, especially the family dynamics. There was a lot of growth throughout the novel and it had a very consistent pace. Cambria Gordon did an amazing job bringing this important piece of history to life. You can tell that there was a lot of research put in to this book and it really paid off! The only thing I would note is that it took me a while to get into the story and at times there were info dumps, but once I got into the story, I could not put it down! I highly recommend this book, especially if you are looking to learn more about the Spanish Inquisition. If you’re looking for a story of hidden identities, forbidden romance, and set in a historical background, this book is for you! Thank you so much to the Book Terminal for including me on this tour and providing me with an arc to review! All thoughts are my own and my review is honest and unbiased.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Louise Sanchez

    The cover is exquisite and drew me in first, but I soon found myself experiencing the Spanish Inquisition though the eyes of sixteen-year-old Isabel (Eva). Her family members are conversos--people who converted to the Catholic faith, but secretly still practice their Jewish customs. The other secret is Isabel's desire to be with Diego, from an aristocratic Catholic family, but who desires to be an artist, even though she's betrothed to an "old Christian" man, a community leader who can help prot The cover is exquisite and drew me in first, but I soon found myself experiencing the Spanish Inquisition though the eyes of sixteen-year-old Isabel (Eva). Her family members are conversos--people who converted to the Catholic faith, but secretly still practice their Jewish customs. The other secret is Isabel's desire to be with Diego, from an aristocratic Catholic family, but who desires to be an artist, even though she's betrothed to an "old Christian" man, a community leader who can help protect her family from the inquisitors. I've read how conversos were rooted out by their family and friends for not lighting fires on the Sabbath, etc., but this story gives goes beyond, and gives details about the actual trauma of enduring the Inquisition. While I appreciated that the author shows the religious fervor of the Christians and the conversos in the story, I wonder how students will react to this information. In our various travels all around Spain, we've seen the imprint various cultures have made on this beautiful and mystical country. This book transported me back in time to when these cultures were clashing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Baseman

    The Poetry of Secrets The best books are the ones that make you forget you're reading and just sweep you up for the ride. I didn't know much about the Spanish Inquisition, and what I did know, was really bleak. What makes this story special is experiencing 1492 Spain through the eyes of 16 year-old Isabel who is an impulsive, creative, curious character and one who has secrets that could cost her her life. The stakes are high. The drama is intense. The love story is romantic. The conflicts at hom The Poetry of Secrets The best books are the ones that make you forget you're reading and just sweep you up for the ride. I didn't know much about the Spanish Inquisition, and what I did know, was really bleak. What makes this story special is experiencing 1492 Spain through the eyes of 16 year-old Isabel who is an impulsive, creative, curious character and one who has secrets that could cost her her life. The stakes are high. The drama is intense. The love story is romantic. The conflicts at home and the danger outside her family's front door drive Isabel to take huge risks to help others and to find her one true love. This story is satisfying and interesting. More than that, it reminds the reader that being "the other" in any society comes at a high price.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ivy Brooks

    The Poetry of Secrets is lyrical historical romance, that was beautifully written and a pleasure to read. I loved reading Isabel's journey, and that the author chose to write about a time period not commonly seen in the YA genre. I can’t imagine how much research went into this novel but it definitely paid off! Although it was beautifully written and the story interesting, it did take me a few chapters to get truly interested in the story but I am glad I stuck with it. That being said, I do think The Poetry of Secrets is lyrical historical romance, that was beautifully written and a pleasure to read. I loved reading Isabel's journey, and that the author chose to write about a time period not commonly seen in the YA genre. I can’t imagine how much research went into this novel but it definitely paid off! Although it was beautifully written and the story interesting, it did take me a few chapters to get truly interested in the story but I am glad I stuck with it. That being said, I do think those who enjoy a good historical book will find this one compelling and unique. Having a feminist poet as the main character was definitely what drew me in and I think many who pick this one up will find themselves swept up as I did. Disclosure: I received an ARC from Book Terminal Tours, & the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Secrets also play a role in “The Poetry of Secrets” by Cambria Gordon (Scholastic Press). Isabel Perez’s family secret is revealed by the second chapter: while her family acts Christian in public, they still practice their Judaism, although only in secret. The novel begins before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. However, the Inquisition is already punishing New Christians for Judaizing – for not eating pork, for lighting candles on Friday night, for not working on Saturdays or for practicin Secrets also play a role in “The Poetry of Secrets” by Cambria Gordon (Scholastic Press). Isabel Perez’s family secret is revealed by the second chapter: while her family acts Christian in public, they still practice their Judaism, although only in secret. The novel begins before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. However, the Inquisition is already punishing New Christians for Judaizing – for not eating pork, for lighting candles on Friday night, for not working on Saturdays or for practicing any Jewish ritual. https://www.thereportergroup.org/past...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    A beautiful and personal way to learn about the Spanish Inquisition, a period that is often glossed over in history lessons. As a librarian, this is a story I definitely want on my shelves. Isabel Perez's passion for education and poetry and art and...Diego...clashes with her love for her family and her desire to protect them, as still-practicing Jews during a time when it was it was forbidden. A budding romance with details tame enough for young teens, keeps readers turning the page, while well A beautiful and personal way to learn about the Spanish Inquisition, a period that is often glossed over in history lessons. As a librarian, this is a story I definitely want on my shelves. Isabel Perez's passion for education and poetry and art and...Diego...clashes with her love for her family and her desire to protect them, as still-practicing Jews during a time when it was it was forbidden. A budding romance with details tame enough for young teens, keeps readers turning the page, while well-researched details of the era make the world feel tangible. Highly recommended for both teens and adults.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Oishani Sarkar

    It's a thought provoking book with emotional rollercoaster involving various religious elements. The story revolves around Isabel , a young women from a family of conversos , Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. Story is explained in detail. Character development is great. Fast paced. Lucid writing style. Overall liked the book!! Recommended to the fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein and also who loves reading a book with hidden identities and forbidden love. It's a thought provoking book with emotional rollercoaster involving various religious elements. The story revolves around Isabel , a young women from a family of conversos , Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. Story is explained in detail. Character development is great. Fast paced. Lucid writing style. Overall liked the book!! Recommended to the fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein and also who loves reading a book with hidden identities and forbidden love.

  14. 5 out of 5

    AMANDA PROSIN

    Took me a long time to get into the book, but by the end I was hooked. Self harm, religious persecution, torture, destiny vs free will, identity, self acceptance, family, romance. . . I like how it was brought forward through time at the end. According to the author's note dates have been fudged to help the story. Took me a long time to get into the book, but by the end I was hooked. Self harm, religious persecution, torture, destiny vs free will, identity, self acceptance, family, romance. . . I like how it was brought forward through time at the end. According to the author's note dates have been fudged to help the story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rosanne

    Really enjoyed this historical fiction novel even though it was a young adult novel. I was fairly ignorant of the Spanish Inquisition and how it affected the Jewish community. I learned how Conversos (Crypos Jews, New Christians, Marranos) hid their Jewish identity and the fear they experienced.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Really great for adults, and kids. The writing is so beautiful - not only does the author make you want know Isabel and Diego, it makes you want to travel to Trujillo and learn more about this time. Tragic and uplifting at the same time....that’s true writing talent!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    This is an historical journey with heart from the perspective of a girl and boy with secrets and responsibilities beyond their years. Thank you Goodreads and Scholastic Press for the ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tani Isaacs

    This book was a wonderful mixture of history, travel, food, art and love. I would recommend it to all my friends!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristel

    Very heavy religious hand by the author. Also a just get on with it and needs more editing vibe.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Megan Fox

    3.3

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    An excellent tale of devotion and perseverance through history.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trigger Warning Database

    Trigger & Content Warnings Self harm Alcohol consumption Physical injuries Torture Knife violence Immolation

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    When I visited Spain almost four years ago, I was moved by the Jewish and Muslim histories entwined with Spain's more traditional Catholic European history that we acknowledge today. So I was fascinated by the premise of Cambria Gordon's debut novel. I learned a lot about Jewish history in Medieval Spain, but the book was rather a mixed bag for me. Isabel is a young teenager in Trujillo, Spain, in 1481. She and her family are conversos, Jews who convert to Catholicism, for the sake of their own s When I visited Spain almost four years ago, I was moved by the Jewish and Muslim histories entwined with Spain's more traditional Catholic European history that we acknowledge today. So I was fascinated by the premise of Cambria Gordon's debut novel. I learned a lot about Jewish history in Medieval Spain, but the book was rather a mixed bag for me. Isabel is a young teenager in Trujillo, Spain, in 1481. She and her family are conversos, Jews who convert to Catholicism, for the sake of their own safety. Yet they secretly observe the Jewish Sabbath in their cellar. Isabel catches the eye of the town alguacil, who seeks to marry her, just as she meets Diego, a young nobleman and aspiring painter. A lot of grim things happen, and that's all I'll say on the plot points. The history itself is fascinating and horrifying, particularly what happened to Jewish and Muslim families displaced and trying to live in peace. That said, I think I might have been better served with nonfiction, because the romance was VERY melodramatic. I realize teens/young adults are the target audience, but I felt like there were some trope-y components of the romance that pulled me out of the story and made me feel like a crusty old person. So like I said, very mixed bag. 3.5 overheated stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn Rentschler

  25. 4 out of 5

    Molly Koch

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily Hill

  27. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Shults

  29. 5 out of 5

    Valentinax13

  30. 5 out of 5

    Suhani

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