Skip to content Skip to navigation

The Secret Under My Skin

TitleThe Secret Under My Skin
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsMcNaughton, Janet Elizabeth
Volume1st HarperCollins trade paper ed
ISBN Number0006485227
DescriptorsEnglish Language; Government; Identity; Nature; Newfoundland and Labrador; Novel; Politics; Reading; Science; Science Fiction; Slavery; Writing; Young Adult

This young adult science fiction novel, set in 2368 after an environmental disaster called the 'technocaust' has taken place, tells the story of Blay Raytee–a thirteen year old former street kid who is now enslaved in a government work camp and spends her days scavenging in a local landfill. Because she can read, she is chosen as a tutor for a privileged girl– a 'bio-indicator' named Marella. Blay finds that, like Marella, she too is capable of reading nature. As Blay works with Marella she discovers things about the world and about herself that she never would have imagined. Janet McNaughton lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Author Profile: 

The Secret under my Skin  is the story of Blay Raytee, a small self-reliant teenager, who lives outside of the town Kildevil in Terra Nova Prefecture*. Her story begins during average day in the government facilitated work-camp Blay belongs to. Her short life has been one struggle after another, struggles which have brought her, along with other nameless and abandoned children, to the work-camp. This changes when Blay is unexpectedly selected by Marrella, a visiting bio-indicator, to leave the camp in order to assist with Marrella’s environmental studies. Blay leaves the camp and begins a new chapter in her life, one that reveals complex truths about the society she lives in, as well as new information regarding her own mysterious past. The Secret under my Skin is a young adult fantasy novel set in 24th century Newfoundland, and is told from the perspective of Blay.

*Terra Nova Prefecture is Newfoundland in the future


"Fifteen, and that was stretching it. So you have a one in fifteen chance of being chosen. Good luck,” she says and she’s gone. I wonder how someone like that became a warder, but then the importance of what’s happening hits me. Helping the bio-indicator might be a way out of here. But why would a bio-indicator pick one of us?
    The Master and the bio-indicator are here for the townspeople, not street kids like us, so even though the Master’s cabin is just up the hill, we never see him. I don’t know much about the Way, but bio-indicators are people with special sensitivities. When they react to toxins in the environment, there’s an eco-warning. Living on the streets in St. Pearl, I thought eco-warnings were just a nuisance that made it hard to get around without being noticed. I wonder now why more of us didn’t die." (19)

    "I do. I wonder what she means by “real food.” When I lived on the streets, I ate anything, but in the workcamp, they taught us that civilized people only eat plant products, never the flesh of animals. Spirulina tastes awful, but I thought eating it made us more like ordinary people. Erica brings me slabs of bread on a plate. Not the spongy stuff she is working with now, but bread as I remember it. Then she hands me a glass filled with something white. A real glass, not the chipped and scratched celluloid containers they gave us at the workcamp." (33)