I have been putting off writing this review. First, I wanted to thoroughly digest my reaction to this book. I took several days to mull over the story before I let myself finish it. I wanted to analyze my personal reactions from different angles before I shouted them out for all the world to hear. Each of our different experiences color the lenses that we view our own personal world with. I wanted to pinpoint and recognize mine.
Secondly, after several days had passed, I honestly did not want to delve back in to what I had felt. I cried when I finished this novel. I pondered over it in the shower, whilst doing the dishes, walking the dog, and any other mundane activity where you're alone with your thoughts.
I even went so far as to sit down on several nights with my trusty Kindle, this blog, and my thoughts, but always ended up directing my time somewhere else.
Childhood sweethearts Chloe and Nate Sinclair live what seems to be a comfortable life. As adults, they fulfilled their childhood fantasy of owning a bookstore, and spend their days discussing their favorite works of literature over tea.
One thing that they never discuss, however, is their tumultuous past.
Chloe and Nate lived a Romeo and Juliet type of affair when they were just teens. They hatched a plan to get Nate and his sisters away from their abusive father, but it never came to fruition as tragedy struck before it could come to pass. It was a tragedy that ripped away the very fabric of their lives, and everything that they held dear. Chloe and Nate held on tightly to each other, as they were all each other had left, but forgiveness was not something easily given, and bitterness slowly split them apart.
Chloe arrives home one day to find Nate mysteriously missing, with only a treasured copy of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" as a clue. Inside the book is a message written out in the secret code of their childhood. As Chloe unravels the code, she discovers the mystery hiding behind the man she thought she knew so well. This discovery leads her back to her husband's estranged family, and the shocking truth that nobody saw coming.
This book succeeded in making me indescribably sad, incredibly angry, angsty (yes, I'm making up words now), hopeful, and hopeless, all in one novel. I think that's the mark of a great read.
OVERALL 5 OUT OF 5 STARS:
eBook Layout/Formatting (on Kindle Fire)-5
Do I recommend it? Yes
Would I read it again? Yes, because I'll probably discover new things I missed the first time.
For the moment, perhaps the best review might be what I sent to Elizabeth Arnold in an email shortly after finishing the book:
I just wanted you to know that I literally just finished The Book of Secrets (the ARC) a few minutes ago.
While I would usually devour an entire novel in a matter of hours, this one delved deeper into my soul, and was too much for me to take in, to just blow through it.
I mean, I really felt what the characters were feeling. At one point, I was screaming at Chloe: How can you just put that notebook down and not learn it all right now?!?
Then, at later parts of the story, I, myself put the book down, at some points for days, to mull over its complexities.
I’m arranging the book review in my head, at this moment, but it’ll probably take me a bit to get it all down on paper. Well, digital paper, at any rate.
I highlighted the parts of the story that just killed me. I read all the time, on my Kindle Fire, but have never once used bookmarks or highlights. It’s been hard to get over my reluctance to mark up a book, even a digital one, but I want to remember those moments, because they push me to re-examine my own life.
I myself grew up in a very religious household. Not quite like the one Joel was head of, but my adult life has seen a turn toward that darkness. I’ve seen the extremes that people will go to when they’re the hero in their own story, and not the villain.
Maybe that’s why I identify with the kids, Sophia, and even understand how Joel could’ve ended up the way he did (and I thought you also explained that very well).
I guess I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this story, fiction though it may be. I want to say it is haunting me, but I don’t want that misconstrued. It’s not really in a bad way. It’s the best kind, like those stories that stick with you, that make their mark on your life.
Thank you for that.
I've decided I'm going to go ahead and discuss them in detail under the "Discussions" tab of this website. It will, in fact, take you to Goodreads, where the Real Life Reviews discussion group is already set up. That way, we can talk about these novels to our heart's content! I've always wanted to have a book club, but there aren't enough book nerds with similar tastes nearby. Thank God for the internet! ;) I'm so glad you're here! I'll see you in the discussion over on Goodreads, k? :)