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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Swallowed by a Secret is a work of children’s fiction penned by author Risa Nyman. A contemporary and realistic tale with a little dash of magical realism thrown in, this is a somewhat serious and emotive story that deals with grief, betrayal, secrets and other social issues for young people who have lost a parent. Our protagonist is the twelve-year-old Rocky, who realizes that the narrative surrounding the death of his father is false. When Rocky hears his deceased father telling him to investigate, he teams up with his new friend Olive to try to make sense of the world he thought he knew.
Author Risa Nyman has created a beautiful and heartfelt tale with a lot of emotional punch, and one from which both middle grade and young adult readers will be able to learn. The plot itself is well crafted to produce a kind of sleuth/mystery narrative as the tale progresses, but the real gems in this highly literary novel are its characters and their personal growth and development. I especially loved the relationship between Rocky and Olive; their support and understanding of one another lend a supportive hand right out of the novel and into the hearts of kids who could be going through the same issues. Rocky’s journey is well narrated and his dialogue is realistic and appealing for a young audience, which also makes his issues and emotional standpoint stand out all the more. Overall, Swallowed by a Secret is a masterclass of contemporary social issues and is a highly recommended read.