Cover image for The Secret Circle
The Secret Circle
Schenker, Dona.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [1998]

Physical Description:
154 pages ; 22 cm
Sixth grader Jamie enters a new school and must decide if membership in an exclusive clique, The Secret Circle, is worth the price of betraying a friend.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 6.0 46980.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Eggertsville-Snyder Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Jamie has just transferred to an all-girls' school and is desperate to make friends when she begins to notice strange things happening around her, such as mice mysteriously scurrying around the classroom. Everyone else seems to know what's going on, but all anyone will say is "No one rats at St. Agnes." When she and a fellow classmate, Zoe, are sent to the principal's office, it appears that she has found a friend. But Jamie still has a lot of work to do before she can win over Zoe and her group of friends, and be allowed to join their exclusive Secret Circle. She must pass two difficult tests: one of bravery and one of loyalty.  The first, a jump into a river from twenty feet, is easy. Jamie isn't afraid of anything. The second is far more serious, and Jamie must decide if membership is worth the cost of the betrayal she'll be forced to commit.  

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Sixth-grader Jamie McClure is both fascinated and repelled by the social cliques she encounters at her new, exclusive private school. Jamie is a quiet and solitary girl whose best friend has always been Pearlie Wu Graves, an elderly Chinese neighbor. When Pearlie dies, however, Jamie finds herself drawn to Zoe, a member of the powerful Secret Circle. Wanting to be closer to Zoe, she agrees to undertake the loyalty and bravery tests necessary to join the clique, but she finds the moral price more than she can bear. Schenker offers a compelling, realistic look at the appeal and tyranny of girls' social cliques, at the same time making a strong case for the individual's power to withstand social pressures. Some of the adult characters--notably Jamie's mother--lack depth, but the grown-ups are not as crucial to the plot as the well-characterized girls of the Secret Circle, who really drive the story line. The tidy but satisfying ending leaves the reader applauding Jamie's decision to follow her conscience, though the pragmatic reader may wonder how long Jamie will be able to resist the appeal of the group. --Debbie Carton

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I have no friends, Jamie McClure thought, and now Pearlie Wu is dead." After this dramatic first line, middle grade readers may be expecting more than this competently written but rather predictable novel delivers. Sixth grader Jamie has two problems: her mother has enrolled her in a snooty private school and her adult neighbor and sole confidante, the gregarious, fun-loving Pearlie, has suddenly died. Jamie finds an unexpected friend in classmate Zoe, who lives above a funeral home, but their relationship becomes complicated by Zoe's participation in a club (The Secret Circle) that requires absolute loyalty from its members. At the same time, Jamie becomes acquainted with Pearlie's eccentric, introverted widower, Mr. Graves, who tricks Jamie and her six-year-old brother into helping him with his beekeeping. In the book's final chapters, the two disparate plot strands entwine when Kai, the leader of the club, demands that Jamie betray Mr. Graves in order to join. Though the majority of her secondary characters are drawn from central casting, Schenker (Fearsome Hero) creates a sympathetic, believably brave protagonist in Jamie, a heroine who does the right thing without coming off as a Goody Two-shoes. Ages 8-10. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-That Jamie calls her new school "St. Agonies" instead of St. Agnes Hall gives some idea of her view of sixth grade. Tall for her age and from a less affluent part of town, she despairs of ever fitting in with girls who have been together since kindergarten. Her divorced mother is busy with her catering business and her best friend has moved away. Jamie's confidante, Pearlie Wu Graves, an elderly neighbor who cared for bees with her husband, has died suddenly and the loss, added to her loneliness, makes Jamie vulnerable. The girl is simultaneously disgusted by and interested in the cruel pranks that are ongoing at school. When she tries for membership in the "Secret Circle," she is asked to prove her loyalty by taking a valuable bee from Mr. Graves, who has become her friend. Jamie successfully "borrows" the insect and the man is none the wiser. However, ashamed of the betrayal and fearful of losing her identity, she refuses to join the group. The writing is concise, the story is gripping, and the characterizations are vivid. Jamie succumbs to the temptation of belonging and hits bottom before she finds her strength. A fine work of fiction.-Marlene Gawron, Orange County Library, Orlando, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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