Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky opens with a conflict that is practically a cliche: a mother lies to protect her daughter. In this case, sixteen-year-old Grace Monroe hits a pedestrian while driving on her learner's permit. When the small town police chief assumes mother Deborah was driving, no correction is offered and Sir Walter Scott's prediction unfolds:
Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!
However, Barbara Delinsky is no ordinary writer, and this is no ordinary cautionary tale. First the characters: mother, daughter, grandfather, ex-husband, sister, widow, brother. Like Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky, this is a book of complex family relationships. I found the characters engaging and deep. Even though I knew, following the initial car accident, things were going to get much worse (and they did), I was so interested in the characters I read on with anticipation.

With plotting reminiscent of Charles Dickens, the threads of all the characters with their individual crises all resolve themselves at the end. As each character grew and change, I cried with joy as they overcame their challenges. While many of today's novels are about a single character, often a serialized one with no change, and a single conflict, often a murder or political plot, this book weaves a story of a family where everyone grows and changes.

I wish there were more authors like Barbara Delinsky.

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