To Be Honest: House of Secrets

Welcome to To Be Honest, HBT where I use my favorite quotes from a recent book I’ve read, categorize them, and explain my thoughts on the book as a whole. I tend to find meaning in everything, but I don’t really force it. Most “reviews” are spoiler free and provide a warning prior to a spoiler-filled section.

To Be Honest House of Secrets Chris Columbus Ned Vizzini Book Review Book Quotes

This week I’m discussing House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini.


House of Secrets
Just Funny:
3 “Excuse me, but what does that mean, “I’m sure I don’t know’?” Piped up Eleanor, age eight. She had sharp eyes, a small, precise nose, and long, curly hair, the same color as her sister’s, that sometimes had gum and leaves in it, if she’d been adventurous that day. She tended to be quiet, which was what Brendan and Cordelia loved most about her. “How can you be sure if you don’t know?”

–> Snarky kids, love it!

24 If you took stupid pictures and added a hundred years, did they end up looking eerie and important?

–> I wonder whether duck faces and selfies will one day look quaint and tasteful. Probably not…

Cordelia130 No quote. The daughter is named after Cordelia Chase because her mother loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

–> The last few parenting generations are all up for this!


Learned Something:

18 Netherlands, floating house devices: The house in the book is situated near water so it was built with a floating device underneath just in case there is an earthquake. The idea is modeled after houses in the Netherlands so I had to check it out to see if that’s a real thing and it is!!

26 dumbwaiter-small freight elevators (or lifts) intended to carry objects rather than people

40 Spartan/spartan- I’ve seen it written both ways and wonder what the difference is. Spartan is obviously Sparta related, but what is spartan, lowercase? “a often not capitalized :  marked by strict self-discipline or self-denial <a Spartan athlete> b often not capitalized :  marked by simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort <a Spartan room> c :  laconic d :  undaunted by pain or danger” via Merriam-Webster


22 She felt that if she read a writer that no one she knew had heard of, she kept him or her alive single-handedly, like intellectual CPR.

–> This is cute and I’m sure fans sometimes think this way of their own finds.

65 Cordelia was impressed. “You remembered from hearing that once? How come you don’t have better grades?”

“Because at school there’s nothing worth remembering.”

–> It is interesting that sometimes great intellectual capacity is discovered outside the standard academic setting.
Final Thoughts:
To be honest, I don’t normally read books considered middle grade or younger, but I wanted to see what director Chris Columbus could do especially since JK Rowling read it and gave him some pointers. Once again, low or no expectations almost always garners a more positive response than high expectations and that proved true here. The novel was fun, very busy with magic and adventure, but cute and grounded too. I don’t think I will read the rest of the series unless I really don’t have anything else to read, but I think kids would really like the story.

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