I recently read a book that floored me in more ways than one. I read it pre-publication through NetGalley. It’s described as a ‘family drama’ so I didn’t expect more than a melodrama–the normal sad, happy, romantic, funny stuff of life conveyed through some poignant prose.
But no. This book isn’t about anything ordinary (okay, there’s some snarky neighbors). The main character is Eve, a Mom faced with extraordinary circumstances. Her youngest child Tyler has XP, or Xeroderma Pigmentosum. Simply, he lacks an enzyme that allows the skin to ‘deal’ with UV light. People with this disorder are referred to as ‘Children of the Night’ because they cannot go out into the sun. Even certain sorts of light bulbs can burn and blister them. Worse–exposure will almost certainly lead, eventually, to cancer. The Deepest Secret, in part, describes their painfully constructed routine to help Tyler avoid the sunshine. XP has put a strain on everyone in the family (besides Tyler, poor kid), on Eve’s marriage, on her relationship with her older daughter, and even on her friendships. Buckley deftly touches on these emotional mini-dramas while telling a much more thrilling story in the foreground.
A startling turn of events throws Eve into a moral, ethical dilemma. She feels forced to choose Tyler’s well-being over all else. As a Mom, I felt a unique sense of sisterhood and understanding, but was inwardly horrified at what unfolded. I started reading it on a Saturday afternoon and basically didn’t stop reading until Sunday.**
I am not going to post any spoilers (because you have to read it, dammit!), but as a parent I think this book presents some thoughtful questions and book club fodder. If your child had a life expectancy of 20, would you sacrifice someone else’s welfare for theirs? How far would you go to ensure your child’s health and happiness? What lengths would you take to find a cure? Would you sacrifice your marriage if that was the price?
The Deepest Secret is gripping and scintillating. It’s released on February 4th, 2014. Read it and then come discuss!
*Sidenote: Don’t text and drive. You’ll get it later.
**Fine, I did pause to feed my children and attend to their many needs. But you get the point. 🙂