Cover image for I have no secrets
I have no secrets
Physical Description:
288 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
"Originally published in 2017 in Great Britain by Electric Monkey, an imprint of Egmont UK, Ltd."
Reading Level:
600 L Lexile
Jemma knows who the murderer is-- because he told her. He thought his secret was safe because her severe cerebral palsy won't let her speak or move. When a new technology means she may be able to communicate and reveal all she knows, Jemma no longer feels powerless. But now she's in a race against time. The killer will act again-- to stop her from telling what she knows. --


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Jemma knows who the murderer is. She knows because he told her.

He thought his secret was safe because Jemma can't speak or move.

But Jemma observes all kinds of things about everyone around her. His secret is just one of them.

And when a new technology means she may be able to communicate and reveal all she knows, Jemma no longer feels powerless in the face of this deadly secret. It's a race against time before the killer acts again...or tries to stop her.

Author Notes

Penny Joelson was born in London where she still lives with her husband and two children and teaches creative writing. She began working with disabled people when she was a teenager, which gave her the inspiration and insight for I Have No Secrets. Find Penny on Twitter: @pennyjoelson

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--Jemma has cerebral palsy and can't communicate, despite previous attempts with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology. Otherwise, she is a typical teenager. She loves Agatha Christie novels, the popular band Glowlight, and gossiping with her aide Sarah about boys. Because she's immobile and can't speak, people consider her a confidante and tell her more than what they otherwise might indulge. Recently Ryan, a neighborhood boy, was murdered, and Sarah mysteriously never made it home from a Glowlight concert. Jemma, while overlooked by everyone for her lack of ability to communicate, may have the information needed to solve Ryan's murder and Sarah's disappearance, but no one ever questions her. Doctors and researchers are hopeful that a forthcoming technology may be that one that works, but will it be available in time? The time line of events feels too quick to be realistic. And while the story is predictable at the beginning, readers will find themselves caught up in the suspense by the end. Jemma is easy to empathize with--her anxiety and frustration is palpable as tension builds. VERDICT The story feels stilted and simplistic at times, but Joelson offers a unique story line that some readers may enjoy. A secondary purchase for collections where murder mysteries circulate well.--Alicia Kalan, The Northwest School, Seattle

Kirkus Review

A nonverbal teen becomes the "real-life password" to solving a terrible crime in this British import.Sixteen-year-old Jemma has "no secrets of [her] own." Quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, she can't move or speak and depends on her foster parents and her aide, Sarah, for everything from eating to using the bathroom. But people often share their secrets with her. After all, Jemma can never telleven when Sarah's sleazy boyfriend, Dan, hints at his involvement in a recent murder just before Sarah goes missing. But when innovative technology offers Jemma a chance to communicate, can she expose Dan's secret before he silences her? Despite its suspenseful premise, the plot pales against Joelson's (Girl in the Window, 2018) intimate, unflinching exploration of Jemma's character; the book's most powerful tension lies in Jemma's simple, direct narration of her unrecognized, uncomfortably realistic frustrations and fears, such as patronizing adults who "don't realize that [she has] a functioning brain" and her worry that her overwhelmed parents will stop fostering. Refreshingly, the author's detailed depiction of augmentative and alternative communication explores both the joy of self-expression and the physical and mental effort it requires. Jemma's bond with her chaotic but supportive foster family grounds the story, particularly her touching rapport with her younger foster brother, Finn, who's autistic and also nonverbal. Most characters appear white.Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of "family." (Suspense. 12-15) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Jemma has cerebral palsy and is noncommunicative. She may not be able to move or speak, but she is intelligent. Unfortunately, Dan, her aide Sarah's boyfriend, thinks this makes her the perfect person to confess his crime to he is the mysterious assailant who stabbed a neighbor to death. This confession confirms Jemma's feelings that Dan is not a good guy, and when Sarah disappears with no warning, Jemma fears the worst. She feels completely helpless until she meets a new doctor who has been experimenting with a communication tool that is controlled by sniffing. For once, Jemma can actually share her thoughts and feelings with others. However, if Dan finds out, will Jemma be his next victim? Joelson writes a compelling, emotional story with a mystery tied in. While it takes a while to get to the action, readers will appreciate the realistic description of Jemma's disability and the thought-provoking commentary on how disabled people are often treated. Hand to fans of character-driven thrillers.--Lindsey Tomsu Copyright 2010 Booklist