Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky

The Secret Between Us
Barbara Delinsky
Random House
480 pages

They were arguing in the seconds before impact.
~ First sentence, Chapter 1, The Secret Between Us ~

On a rainy night, Deborah Monroe and her teenage daughter, Grace, are driving home when their car hits a man. The victim, who turns out to be Grace's history teacher, is unconscious but alive. Although Grace was driving, Deborah sends her home and takes responsibility for the accident when the cops show up. Deborah is juggling a lot: as a family doctor, she is in private practice with her ├╝ber-demanding widower father, who is trying to hide a drinking problem; her son, Dylan, is vision impaired; her mother's death continues to affect the family; Deborah is still dealing with her ex-husband's new, separate life; and her unmarried sister, Jill, has just announced she's pregnant. Grace's guilt about not taking responsibility for the accident makes her withdraw from friends and family, and the accident victim turns out to have a more complex private life than anyone imagined.

This is a bit of a new direction for Barbara Delinsky. While I'm used to reading books from this author with the main focus being romance not so with this book. This book is more about family, how far parents will go to protect their children and the expectations that family members have for one another. It reminds me of another author whose work I enjoy, Jodi Picoult.

We all have expectations for the people around us. Expectations of how they'll behave, react, do things. Are those expectations ours alone or do others have some ownership? They most certainly drive how we react to others when our expectations aren't meet. For Deborah, Grace, Dylan, Jill and Michael their lives are driven by expectations, realistic or not, and when they aren't meet it implodes with unforeseen consequences.

This book is also about how far a parent will, or should, go in protecting a child from the consequences of their actions. While a parent may believe they are acting in the best interest of their child this book shows the ramifications of what happens when guilt sets in for both mother and child and how destructive it can become.

While the end is a little too easy overall I enjoyed this book. While not a parent myself I could understand Deborah's need to protect Grace. I most certainly understood the parent/child expectations between Michael and his daughters. If Ms. Delinsky continues to turn out stories as good as this one I'll continue to read her work.


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