Those Secrets We Keep
Sometimes reviewing can be a painful job. You can know after you have finished the first chapter of a book that the best you can hope for is mediocre and yet be forced to follow the story to the bitter end. With this novel the ending was happy but the journey to get there was long, boring and at moments, downright annoying.
When Sloane’s aunt offers her the use of the family cabin in Lake George, NY, Sloane jumps at the chance to get away. She leaves her daughter at camp, gives her husband a cool goodbye and heads to the shore with best gal-pal Hillary. While on the road she gets a call from an old college buddy, Georgiana, who more or less invites herself along and Sloane’s three-week break looks like it’s going to turn into one long, extended girls’ night.
Right away I had trouble with the characters and their story lines. Sloane, our primary heroine, still identifies herself as a head cheerleader, something she hasn’t been since high school. She has an amazing husband but has felt disconnected from him since her sister died. She is worried about her brother-in-law and her nieces and nephew but her concern is all phone calls. She doesn’t bother to offer to bring the kids to the lake or to have the girls out at her place which made the whole issue of her sister’s death seem like an excuse for Sloane’s premature midlife crisis.
Hillary, a family counselor, has an absolutely ridiculous secret that she is keeping from her husband. The fact that she can’t talk the issue over with him is more than a little disturbing given what she does for a living. Adding to the weirdness is the bonding she does with Georgiana, whom she tells her life story to after knowing her less than a week. Hillary’s main role is to play the responsible adult in the bunch, the one who holds the towels and tells the others to be careful when they go cliff diving.
Georgiana is an annoying, obnoxious idiot whom I knew from the moment she appeared on page was our catalyst. She is the excuse for Sloane getting together with an ex-boyfriend and for pretty much everything Sloane does that would be out of character. Aside from providing the extremely useful literary device of catalyst and listening device when a character needs to tell the reader something, she has no real function. She does have plenty of page time to be thoroughly annoying, though. Unless you have a soft spot for selfish lushes you won’t enjoy her.
At this point I could say something like the writing wasn’t all bad but honestly the prose was very simplistic. It certainly wasn’t clunky or horrific but it lacked depth and quite frankly I don’t think a reader should be grateful to get a book that contains prose that is simply acceptable. Publishing houses employ editors. Shouldn’t acceptable be the absolute minimum standard for being published? Do we actually need to praise someone for it? I think not.
I’d tell you about the plot but my description of an extended girl’s night pretty much said it all. The secrets which are referred to in the title don’t really reveal anything other than the dysfunction of our characters.
I probably would have given the story a lower grade but the fact is, I’ve read worse. That’s not exactly a compliment to the author but it does mean that she doesn’t get an F. On the bright side for me, I have the opportunity to warn some people away and I hope they heed that warning. No reason for anyone else to have to suffer through this.