Thursday, February 06, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, so Eve plans a party.  ~ Opening to The Deepest Secret




The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
Bantam, 2014
Crime Fiction; 448 pgs

From the Publisher:
Diagnosed with XP, a rare medical condition which makes him lethally sensitive to light, Tyler is a thirteen-year-old who desperately wants just one thing: to be normal. His mother Eve also wants just one thing: to protect her son. As Tyler begins roaming their cul-de-sac at night, cloaked in the safety of the darkness, he peers into the lives of the other families on the street-looking in on the things they most want hidden. Then, the young daughter of a neighbor suddenly vanishes, and Tyler may be the only one who can make sense of her disappearance…but what will happen when everyone's secrets are exposed to the light?
I did not know much about Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) going into this novel, nor how limiting survival with this genetic defect could be.  Not only does Tyler have to stay indoors during the daylight hours, but certain types of light, including from car headlights, can be detrimental to his health.  Extreme care must be taken for Tyler to get to doctor's appointments and the like. His mother, Eve, has gone out of her way to make life as comfortable and safe for her son as possible.  She's gotten most of the neighbors on their cul de sac to avoid halogen bulbs and advocated to get the street lights in their vicinity turned off.  She will take no chances at keeping her son safe--and alive.  

The Deepest Secret is an engrossing novel that takes the reader into the life of Tyler's family.  Tyler dreams of being a photographer, and often ventures out into the night without his family's knowledge to capture photographs of nature and life.  He peeks into the windows of his neighbors, and probably knows more about what goes on behind closed doors than anyone else.  His older sister, Melissa, is the "perfect" child.  The one without the genetic defect.  Her own life has begun to spiral out of control, something her mother doesn't at first realize.  Eve's attention and concern has always mostly fallen on Tyler.  She's had to play the role of father more often than not too, her husband living and working in another city, only coming home on the weekends or when he can.  

The novel is told from alternating viewpoints, giving the reader multiple perspectives into the lives of the Lattimore family.  The author takes her time setting up the story, making sure the reader has a clear and in-depth picture of the players involved.  As a result, The Deepest Secret is not a fast paced novel.  However, it was difficult to put down.  I became so invested in the characters, in their lives, and in their fate.  I felt for Eve's friend whose daughter was missing, and I felt for Eve and her family, who seemed to be at the center of it all.

I often forgot as I read just how young Tyler is--only 14.  At times he seemed older, and then he would do or say something that would remind me just how young and innocent he is.  I can't imagine living like he does, how lonely an existence he has, even with his few friends.  And to know that your life could be cut short any day . . .

I did not warm to Eve, Tyler's mother, right away.  It's easy to see why the neighbors and outsiders might have a poor attitude about her, given her obsession with keeping her son safe.  She often has to be assertive and sometimes even aggressive about it.  As annoying as that might be, it's a necessary evil.  Wouldn't any of us do the same in most situations, knowing our child's life depends on it?

I felt from the start for not only Tyler, but also his sister, Melissa.  She too has been impacted by the shut in life her brother has had to lead.  In many ways, she has been shut in too.  It is no wonder she has begun to act out.

As for the father, David, well, I have mixed feelings about him even now.  He was so often absent, and when he began to realize just how much he didn't know or understand about his own family, his first reaction was to run away.  I know that people cope in different ways, but I often found his reactions disappointing.  At the same time, I did feel for him on some level, knowing it was not easy on him either.  And I felt that Eve could have been more flexible in some things than she was. Honestly though, I cannot imagine it was easy on any of them.

The way the story unfolds, the fate of the missing girl, and the roles the Lattimores and their neighbors play make this thrilling novel all the more intriguing.  This is one of those books I am having difficulty reviewing for risk of spoiling any part of it.  It's such a good book on many levels, one I enjoyed thoroughly--and one that left me wondering what I would have done in the same situation. Or, at least, understanding why certain choices were made, even if I did not quite agree with them.  I am still thinking of this book weeks after finishing it.

Recommendation: Read it!

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Carla Buckley and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

36 comments:

  1. You make this sound so good; it's on my TBR pile so I'll be moving it up. Thanks Wendy

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    1. Diane - I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Diane.

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  2. What an interesting condition to choose for a novel, I had heard of it because our local newspaper regularly features a brother and sister who have it. A great review of what sounds like a thought provoking book, thank you.

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    1. Tracy - I thought it was an interesting subject to tackle, especially in a novel like this.

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  3. Another one for my list! I haven't heard of this one before but am thinking it might be good for my mystery book group - something a bit different!

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    1. Iliana - I think it would make a great book for a book group. Not only the XP, but the other issues brought up in the novel.

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  4. Oooo, I'm so glad you liked it - I have this one on my to-review shelf!

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    1. Carrie - I hope you like it when you read it, Carrie! I will look for review when you get to it.

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  5. You've made me excited about this one. Thanks for the heads-up about the slow pace.

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    1. Anna - I hope you do get a chance to read it if you want to. The pacing didn't hurt my enjoyment of the book at all.

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  6. I know next to nothing about XP so learning about that would be fascinating. This book sounds really good.

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    1. Kathy - I found it fascinating, that is for sure.

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  7. I've never heard of XP, but there again is the fact that reading fiction educates in unpredictable ways, and I love learning new stuff via a good story! I'm adding this one to my list. Great review, Wendy, provokes interest, but doesn't give anything away.

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    1. Jenclair - Yes, you never know what you might learn while reading, including in fiction. I hope you do read this one, Jenclair. I would love to know what you think.

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  8. I find that so many people are reading crime/thrillers/mysteries lately. At least on my blogging rounds. I feel like I am missing something by not. haha

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    1. Kelly - I feel like I haven't read one in ages! Okay, so I just finished one and am reading another. I read this back in December. So good!

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  9. I can't imagine trying to deal with something like this condition. It definitely would impact everyone in your family in so many ways. This sounds really interesting.

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    1. Lisa - I can't imagine it either. It really impacts everyone and everything anyone in the family does.

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  10. Sounds good, though yes, about the father, that doesn't sound too great, especially given what sounds a hard time for Eve, even if she's a little (understandably) overbearing. I've read a little about this condition, a picture of a girl in what was pretty much a space suit. That and an allergy to water are perhaps the 'worst' I've read of of this kind.

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    1. Charlie - People cope in different ways, and I know it couldn't have been easy for him. I tried to keep that in mind as I read, but I really wished he would have stepped in much sooner in terms of being there for his family. Money isn't everything.

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  11. So happy to see that you enjoyed this. I have the eGalley, too, and am looking forward to it.

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    1. Joy - I will be curious to read your thoughts on it when you get to it. I hope you like it.

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  12. This sounds so good...I have to read it! I've been on a bit of a mystery kick recently and I'm completely intrigued by your review :)

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    1. Samantha - I think you'd like this one and hope you do get a chance to read it. The book has been going around my office. I couldn't help but share. Everyone who has read it has liked it.

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  13. I read another book by this author, The Things that Keep Us Here which I found a little haunting but good. I would read this one. I take medication for my lupus that makes me sensitive to light. Not to the degree of XP of course but I can't sit under fluorescent lighting or I'll get sunburned, etc. So, I can relate to how difficult such a condition would be to deal with.

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    1. Ti - I have heard about that one, but I haven't read it. I want to now, especially after having read this one.

      I didn't know that about the lupus medication. That must be a challenge, especially given how many places use fluorescent lighting. My office, for example. I wonder how far my agency would go to accommodate a condition like that. I imagine they'd have to, wouldn't they? I would hope so.

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  14. Looks pretty good. Another book I read and loved that had the main character suffering from XP is Fear Nothing my Dean Koontz.

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    1. Stacy - I think I have a copy of Fear Nothing, but I haven't read it. I should if you liked it so much.

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  15. I dont know anything about XP but you make this book sound good. I'll check it out thanks. http://www.thecuecard.com/

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    1. SWG - I thought the author did a good job building the mystery portion of the story around the family and their struggle with Tyler's XP. If you do read it, I hope you like it!

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  16. You are the second person I know to have posted about this novel recently - now I am really intrigued!

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    1. Elizabeth - I think it's one worth checking out. I am glad I read it.

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  17. The XP part of this sounds really interesting. Tyler sounds like the kind of character that grabs at the readers heart strings. The Deepest Secret sounds like a good one!

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    1. Naida - It really was interesting--I learned more about it than I ever knew. I really did like Tyler. I can't imagine what life must be like for someone with his condition.

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  18. I didn't want to read too much of your review other than to see if you liked it. I have the audio which will be coming up probably next week. I think I'm going to like this one.

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    1. Darlene - I can't wait to hear what you think of the audio version! I think you will like it too.

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