Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Long Secret (Harriet the Spy #2)” as Want to Read:
The Long Secret (Harriet the Spy #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Long Secret (Harriet the Spy #2)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  2,199 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
Harriet the Spy refuses to become ruffled when an unidentified person starts leaving disturbing notes all over the quiet little beach town of Water Mill. She’s determined to discover the author of the notes. And she drags her friend, mousy Beth Ellen, into all kinds of odd and embarrassing situations in her efforts to reveal the culprit. Observing in her own special, caust ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 12th 2002 by Yearling (first published 1965)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Long Secret, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Phil Jensen As I recall, the fictional character of Harriet was asexual, and the author, Louise Fitzhugh, was gay.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 04, 2007 Linda rated it it was amazing
How can anyone not love a book that starts out with a cashier with "mean eyes" receiving an anonymous note that reads "jesus hates you"?

C'mon; seriously--
Colleen Wainwright
Jul 30, 2011 Colleen Wainwright rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed every bit of Harriet the Spy as a girl, and, while it made me anxious to read (because you knew she was going to get caught!), re-read it many times.

But The Long Secret is the book I continue to re-read as a grown woman. It shares the same strengths of great character portraits, plotting, and sense of place that "Harriet" had, but this sequel has a more languid, mysterious, quirky feel, and dares to leave things hanging. Set on the shores of the wealthy New Yorkers' summer beach playg
EVERYONE, screamed Jennifer. YOU must READ this BOOK! In my head, I talk like Harriet the Spy! But as I am wise adult (ha), I try not to inflict that on people. Seriously...I wonder if my inner voice developed as a result of reading and re-reading and re-reading Harriet the Spy and The Long Secret as a child?! Of course sometimes my inner voice is Harriet (WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU???!!) and sometimes it is Beth Ellen (I don't know who I am and I want to hide).

I loved Harriet the Spy and The Long Se
Feb 18, 2012 Myles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Oh great, a first menstruation book."

That is about what I thought, rolling my eyes, when I was fairly into the book, but really that kind of exasperation is not only unfair, it does little justice to the substance of The Long Secret. I'll pause to allow indignant people to remind me that it's a great part of the substance of the book, a milestone towards the end of childhood and underlying Beth Ellen's uncertainty about herself, the future, the world, God. The girl has a lot on her plate. Fitzh
Chance Lee
May 21, 2017 Chance Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, look at this awful cover from the 1984 paperback edition of this book. It makes Harriet look like the main character (she's not) and Beth Ellen doesn't even have curly hair.

The original cover, with Louise Fitzhugh's illustration, is much better. An illustration of Beth Ellen and Harriet at the beach, it tells us many things about the story -- 1) they're at the beach! This book takes place in the beach town of Water Mill, where Beth Ellen and Harriet, mere acquaintances at school in New Y
Dec 15, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
I loved Harriet the Spy, and was so excited to read this next one...but as a kid I found it much more melancholy...I think now that I look back on it, it's because the book actually does capture that melancholy feeling of puberty, of having to leave childhood behind, of being separated out from childhood by what is happening to your body. That is part of what is brilliant about the book. But much more evocative for girls, than boys, I'd think....
Jan 13, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
The under appreciated red headed step sister of Harriet the Spy. Just as good, and in many ways, better.
Nov 15, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Worst cover ever short-list. Why? The author made it perfectly clear what the girls look like with her own interior illustrations. Well, it's an awful book anyway. I suppose it's meant to have some humor in it, but most of the jokes are so mean-spirited, making fun of what people like Mama Jenkins and Wallace look like, for example. I miss Sport; he was the only redeeming feature of the first book imo. The only redeeming feature of this is the mystery. It's worse than Catcher in the Rye, and Har ...more
Timothy Power
Jun 11, 2010 Timothy Power rated it it was amazing
Shelves: old-faves
What I love about this book is the touching sense of the desperate boredom of adolescence that Louise Fitzhugh evokes without ever directly addressing the issue. And Harriet M. Welsch has always been a hero to me.
Lars Guthrie
Sep 20, 2009 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing
Like 'Harriet the Spy' and 'Sport,' a groundbreaking work of children's literature. I don't know if Judy Blume read this before writing 'Are You There, God?' (published in 1970, five years after 'The Long Secret') but two of the central themes are similar--puberty and religion--so there's little doubt that Fitzhugh opened the door for clear-eyed frankness on such subject matter. Like Margaret, Harriet and her intermittent friend (and the real star of 'Secret') Beth Ann occupy a lofty socioeconom ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Cherie rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
I loved it but I have so many questions.

The main story in this book is really about Harriet's friend Beth Ellen. She is so quiet and mousy but she goes through a lot during the course of this book. At one point, I almost fell out of my chair laughing, and by the end, I doubted that I had understood anything. I was happy for Beth Ellen, but like Harriet, I didn't understand her either.

There were some other characters and things that happened in the book that I would give anything to ask Fitzhugh
Jul 18, 2016 merireads rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 01, 2013 Kristenweg rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
While it doesn't quite live up to its classic predecessor ('Harriet the Spy'), it's still fun to revisit some familiar characters. Apparently intended to be a more serious book than 'Harriet,' 'The Long Secret' takes up some more sensitive themes (menstruation, parental neglect, religious belief) with mixed results. Controversial at the time, the conversation about menstruation (between two twelve year old girls who have experienced it, and Harriet, who hasn't) is sensitive and laugh out loud fu ...more
lucy  black
May 06, 2010 lucy black rated it it was amazing
Lucy Longstocking review

Lots of people have read Harriet the Spy and loved it, but not so many know about the two follow up books. Harriet returns in The Long Secret, which is a wonderful summer holiday story. The long Secret begins with a nasty (but sort-of funny) secret note and Harriet’s burning desire to find out who sent it. She enlists her mousy friend Beth Allen to reluctantly help her, and they have lots of odd encounters along the way. I like the
Mar 14, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
I remember reading this book as a kid and not being too nuts about it, but after rereading it, I just love it. One of my favorite things about Fitzhugh's writing is that she makes most of the adults in her books out to be complete idiots. That scene in the Shark's Tooth Inn-classic. I think this book may just be too much for all but the most sophisticated of kid readers. Who of them are going to see Agatha Plummer as a total cougar, and Wallace ("HUP!" love that), as a money grubbing gigolo. The ...more
V. Greene
Jun 25, 2009 V. Greene rated it really liked it
When I first read this, I was disappointed by the new angle on Harriet. I'd built her up as rather a hero and had overlooked her more grating aspects. Too, I think the book made me uncomfortable because though Harriet impressed me, Beth Ellen is probably more who I am, too.

Age brings perspective. This really was quite the book.
Joshua Gross
Sep 15, 2010 Joshua Gross rated it really liked it
The Long Secret is a follow-up book to the classic children's novel Harriet the Spy, and while Harriet is a prominent main character, the main story is essentially her friend Beth Ellen's coming of age story. This novel takes place over the summer, when Beth Ellen and Harriet live at their summer homes away from their usual friends. They tend to be little more than acquaintances during the school year, but out of necessity are closer friends during the summer. There is a main mystery plot to th ...more
Laura Hughes
Mar 07, 2013 Laura Hughes rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-readers
The general consensus is that the Harriet the Spy sequels are not worth reading. While they're better than a lot of books and I'm glad I read them, I have to agree that they are not up to the caliber of Harriet.

It turns out that what makes Harriet the Spy so great is Harriet herself--lively, cynical, nosy, adventurous Harriet. In a conversation once, I realized that one of the character types I most like to read and watch in stories is the type who would unselfconsciously say "I'm awesome." Ther
Jun 13, 2017 Vaidehi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asoue
It took me inordinately long to read this book considering it's length, but there was just so much to unpack.

AND I was surprised by the ending.
Joanna Marple
Mar 06, 2014 Joanna Marple rated it it was amazing
I just love Fitzhugh's realism. I was prepared for this sequel to HARRIET THE SPY (still need to read SPORT) to disappoint. It didn't. Set out in The Hamptons on Long Island (where the wealthy New Yorkers summer), Harriet and two school friends spend the summer by the sea. Told from multiple points of view, with Beth Ellen's character and story are really developed, and we and Harriet realize how quick Harriet was to jump to conclusions about this mousy friend in the first book.

The long Secret
Mar 28, 2008 Hayden rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
I found this book on my own bookshelf. I can't believe it's possible that I never read the follow-up to Harriet the Spy, one of my all-time favorite books. But I don't remember reading it, so maybe I haven't read it as an adult. I'm excited.

Updated to add: Long Secret is more about Harriet's mousy friend Beth Ellen than about Harriet, though it follows both of them through their adventures one summer in the Hamptons (they are very posh!). It is pretty fantastic, but not quite as good as Harriet
Marta Boksenbaum
Jul 02, 2012 Marta Boksenbaum rated it it was ok
I think that I may have enjoyed this book if I had read it after reading Harriet the Spy as a child. Reading it now I felt distant from the characters, as if I've lost the part of me that understood what it was like to be a kid. I think what is more likely is how different Harriet and Beth Ellen's lives are from mine. As a kid I might have connected with them despite the different time period and experiences, but the whole time I read it I felt disconnected. Maybe it isn't a great book or good w ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Susann rated it really liked it
"That's it, thought Beth Ellen: Never be afraid to wear glasses."
Can't remember when I first read this, but I know I was originally put off by the somewhat negative depiction of Harriet; I felt disloyal. But now I can appreciate Fitzhugh's realism. I will always adore bossy and screechy Harriet, but that doesn't mean that I can't cheer on Beth Ellen, too. "The mice shall inherit the earth, it's said."
Click below for a wise and impressive review (and more fabulous Fitzhugh quotes):
Beth Blahut
Dec 20, 2012 Beth Blahut rated it it was amazing
Love reading children's fiction, especially nice to read children's books in the summer when something light to read at the beach is just what you want. FItzhugh is amazing! I like the editions with author's original illustrations. Story of 2 rich girls from NYC who go to the same school but are not close during the school year. Their families summer in the same beach town and so in the summers the girls spend lots of time together. SOme crazy grown-ups who dont act very grown up and a mystery t ...more
Sep 04, 2014 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I read this book once as a child and hated it. After re-reading a series of essays about Harriet the Spy, I decided to give this one another chance. So glad I did. It is incredibly sophisticated for a children's book. I still love the character of Harriet and she remains my favourite part of the story. But there is a lot here about families, religion and relationships. The scene where they talk about menstruation was priceless. The book is actually quite witty.

Sasha (whispersofthesilentwind)
“Shy people are angry people”

I read this book many years ago and really didn't really like. I can't remember why now... but that's besides the point. I, suprisingly, enjoyed this more than Harriet the Spy. I liked Beth Ellen as a narrator. I enjoyed feeling her emotions throughout the book. The mystery in this book had me hooked and the ending was great.
Jan 02, 2011 Lucy rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books from my childhood. More than Harriet Welsch, I identified with Beth Ellen Hansen. Harriet felt like the child I wanted to be, while Beth Ellen is the child that I was. Interestingly I have never read Harriet the Spy and one day soon I may pick it up, but The Long Secret is a brilliant book standing on its own.
Penni Russon
Jan 14, 2013 Penni Russon rated it it was amazing
I might like this better than the first one. I loved Beth Ellen, the setting, the bigger questions at play.
Jul 29, 2007 Kate rated it it was amazing
This book, from the Harriet the Spy author with a focus on one of her friends, FLOORED me. I absolutely love it.
Hannah Messler
Jun 01, 2014 Hannah Messler rated it really liked it
I liked this and would have given it the three-star rating to indicate as much but there is a short stout brown & white spotted dog in here named Moo-Moo and she gets a star of her own.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Puberty, Female Rite of Passage 1 3 Oct 11, 2014 09:45PM  
  • The Wonderful Adventures of Suzuki Beane
  • Harriet the Spy, Double Agent (Harriet the Spy Adventures, #2)
  • Harriet Spies Again (Harriet the Spy Adventures, #1)
  • Anastasia on Her Own (Anastasia Krupnik, #5)
  • Henry Reed's Babysitting Service
  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (Lewis Barnavelt, #3)
  • Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth
  • Return to Gone-Away (Gone-Away Lake, #2)
  • The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues
  • Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!
  • Black and Blue Magic
  • Katie John
  • The Secret Language
  • The Pistachio Prescription
  • The Diamond in the Window (Hall Family Chronicles, #1)
Born in Memphis, Tennessee. She attended Miss Hutchison's School and three different universities, without obtaining a degree. According to her obituary in the New York Times, Fitzhugh graduated from Barnard College in 1950. She lived most of her adult life in New York City and had houses in both Long Island and Bridgewater, Connecticut.

She was married briefly to Ed Thompson, whom she dated in hig
More about Louise Fitzhugh...

Other Books in the Series

Harriet the Spy (3 books)
  • Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)
  • Sport (Harriet the Spy #3)

Share This Book

“Shy people are angry people,” 1 likes
More quotes…