Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley is being compared to Jodi Picoult and William Landay and for once I don't feel like the book blurbs have gotten the comparison completely wrong. This compelling novel follows the lives of a family that seems to be falling apart by the seams regardless of the efforts of the matriarch Eve Lattimore. This isn't the familiar story of a dysfunctional family that readers won't feel any sympathy for, but in fact the opposite. 

By all appearances, the Lattimore family is the picturesque suburban family but what sets them apart is their son. Tyler, fourteen years old, wants nothing more than to be a normal person. He wants to enjoy life, maybe see the world outside of the shadows he's been forced into, to just sit in a classroom with his classmates. He just needs the one enzyme out of thousands in order to be normal instead but instead he battles for his life by a very powerful foe named XP. XP makes it so he's unable to be exposed to the sun. In an effort to get outside, he traverse the Ohio terrain and pears into the lives of his neighbors. 

One of these neighbors could possibly be holding the secret of what's happened to a local girl who's gone missing. The same girl is the daughter to his mother Eve's best friend. Tyler thinks he may know who is the cause of her disappearance. We are privy to his internal struggle with letting this information known all the while knowing who the actual culprit may in fact be.

When I began this book I wasn't sure what to think but I was excited after reading the blurb, and a little skeptical, when it was compared to Picoult and Landay. I've read at least one book by both authors and liked them tremendously so to say I was interested is an understatement. What Carla Buckley does, like those authors, is draw the reader in by painting a vivid portrait of a family that readers can't help but to relate to. The Lattimore family is given so much depth I felt like I was a guest in their home documenting their every move.

I usually loathe female teenage characters such as Melissa, Tyler's older sister, and for a while there she did nothing to dissuade that emotion. Before long, Buckley manages to humanize her and bring forth her true anguish. She lives in a world where she comes last. She battles the guilt of being healthy all the while thanking her lucky stars she isn't the one with an expected lifespan of age twenty. Sure she seems like a brat, but it's only because she's invisible. She is forced into a world of shadows only her shadow is emotional rather than life or death. 

Then there's David. David Lattimore, the family patriarch, lives primarily in DC and only visits his family on the weekends. During those visits he's still working. Someone's gotta pay the bills that rack up in caring for his son. He seems like the distant father who occasionally forgets how serious his son's illness is, yet... why would he want to come home to a place where his wife barely looks at him. Their marriage is constantly being in the balance and the tension drips from the page whenever he is with his wife Eve.

Eve...Eve...Eve... I wanted so much to like her. Hell! I do like her. She's tried to do everything she can to make sure her son lives. She believes that if she isn't around Tyler has no one. Eve obsessively counts minutes, hours, sun ups, sun downs, whatever she needs to in order to make sure Tyler's needs are met. She ensures the doctors know about every exposure on Tyler's body, coordinates all his doctor appointments, and even researches cameras in an effort to support his love of photography. Eve does it all... yet... she falls short for me. I think I dislike her because I want her to understand that the UV-proof home she's created has cost her much more than what she realizes she'll lose if her deepest secrets surface.

Ultimately, for me, The Deepest Secret meant so much than the mystery and suspense it promised. What kept me turning the pages for this novel is how involved with this family I became. The exploration of the depths that one will go to keep their lives together for the people they love did not fall on deaf ears here and I absolutely recommend this novel to anyone who's a fan of Jodi Picoult and William Landay. I look forward to reading more by this author. ****

Copy provided by Bantam Books/Random House Publishing via Netgalley

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