Barbara Delinsky writes with an intimate knowledge of relationships and family to create yet another powerful and emotionally-packed story. The opening scene of THE SECRET BETWEEN US begins as physician Deborah Monroe has picked up her 16-year-old daughter Grace from a party. Despite the rainy weather, Deborah has Grace drive them to their house. Grace is practicing her driving skills, and mother and daughter are arguing. The rain makes the visibility difficult, and neither of them is prepared when the car hits what turns out to be a man. Deborah tells Grace to go home and stay with her brother, and calls 911.
When the police and ambulance arrive, Deborah is the only one there to answer the questions about the accident. So the assumption is made that she was driving the car. This sin of omission begins the lie that she will have to explain to her daughter and creates a moral dilemma for Deborah. The investigation proceeds with Deborah as the person behind the wheel.
Grace feels so ashamed that she was driving the vehicle and that her mother is taking the rap for what transpired. She is a star in high school academically and a member of the track team, but unfortunately her life begins to fall apart. Everyone seems to understand that Grace is having difficulty, which makes her guilt feelings an even bigger burden for her to bear. She is keeping the secret but at a huge cost to herself and her friendships. Who can she tell what really happened without creating more problems?
Deborah is juggling much of her life. Divorced now, Deborah works with her father, who has been a physician to three generations in their town. He is drinking too much after the death of his wife, which complicates their relationship. And to top it off, Deborah’s sister announces that she is pregnant and not married. She runs a marvelous bakery, but their father has yet to visit the establishment or even have a bite of the delicious pastries her sister makes. Their estrangement puts Deborah in the middle of an impossible situation. And now Deborah is harboring secrets with her daughter.
To make matters worse, the victim, Cal McKenna, dies. The family’s standing in the community comes into question, and the widow decides to sue Deborah. Cal’s brother, Tom, discovers information about Cal that leads to more questions about his life and untimely death. As Deborah copes with the aftermath of the accident, the lawsuit and her lie, she gains new insights about herself and her family.
Barbara Delinsky’s writing depicts the themes of responsibility, family expectations and intent in this well-portrayed cast of characters. The dialogue between parent and child through the various generations makes THE SECRET BETWEEN US a novel that this reviewer will not soon forget.
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on January 22, 2008
The Secret Between Us