I enjoyed the conversation with my book club about The Deepest Secret more than I liked the book itself. Buckley has written a world in which everybody has secrets. Discovering what those secrets are is the point of this thriller about a cul-de-sac and its occupants.
Tyler, one of the main characters, has XP, a disease in which his skin can burn at the slightest exposure to UV rays. So, most of his portion of the story takes place at night, when he can safely go outside: “He goes over to the bridge and shines his flashlight down into the water. Minnows dart in every direction, shivery brown shapes. Rosemary had once told him that fish stayed awake all night, just like him. That had comforted him, knowing that someone else was awake besides him and the crickets.” pg 19 He sees all sorts of crazy stuff.
Tyler’s mom, Eve, has gone into mothering overdrive because of her son’s illness: “She misses the carefree person she used to be, that joyful girl. Being Tyler’s mother has turned her into someone who’s endlessly vigilant. She tortures herself with horrifying scenarios just so she can come up with a plan.” No fun.
Eve’s relationship with her husband is understandably screwed up because of the way she behaves about her son. He is generally absent and works in another city. Tyler has an older sister who doesn’t get the attention she needs because her bro is sick all the time.
And that’s just one family. Now add about a dozen other characters and you begin to get the feel of The Deepest Secret. I never had trouble keeping anyone straight, but there are a lot of characters.
The best part of the conversation with the book club centered around the idea of secrets and “normalcy.” One of our members said that if we could point to one person who was normal, then he could show us someone else who was not. The point being that “normal” doesn’t really exist. It’s just some sort of pie-in-the-sky ideal that we tell ourselves about each other.
The Deepest Secret had me questioning the unseen lives of those around me from others in my neighborhood to the people next door. It was an unnerving feeling but not necessarily unpleasant. Pick this one up if you want to shake your view of reality a bit. Or if you want to feel like someone is peeking through the windows of your home at all of your mundane moments. Because, it’s not like you have anything to hide… do you?
Thanks for reading!