Rachel Whalen and Ariel Alexander have been friends for more than a decade. Despite their differences–down-to-earth Rachel owns a local hair salon; Ariel is a vivacious former TV star determined to hold on to her looks–they’ve helped each other navigate single motherhood, banding together against the soccer moms of Timbergrove, Oregon.
Yet lately, Rachel wonders about Ariel’s increasingly erratic parenting and her clandestine love life. And Rachel can’t reveal to anyone, even Ariel, how much she worries about her sullen, distant, younger son. When an unthinkable tragedy separates the two families, Rachel desperately tries to understand what went wrong. But as her assumptions are ripped away one by one, she must confront shattering revelations about the people she trusted and the suburban world that once seemed so safe.
Rosalind Noonan explores both the bonds and the gulfs that exist between parents and children, friends and neighbors, in a suspenseful novel that is honest, intelligent, and thought provoking.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
I am very conflicted about this book. Several times in the first portion, I considered putting it down. It moved slowly as it set the pace of life in the small town of Timbergrove, and I struggled to see the relevance of everything I was reading. I still believe there is some repetition of backstory and some details that could be condensed for a tighter read, and maybe more signposting of things to come would have helped me later. (I love that “Aha!” feeling of connecting the dots.)
If I have one piece of advice for any reader, though, it’s “Hang in there!” If you are also reading this book and subconsciously perusing the contents of your bookshelf/TBR pile for something more exciting, definitely hang in there. At about 40% of the way through, the storyline really picks up and little hints of unease, and even revulsion, from earlier in the book begin to find a home.
That said, the unnecessary elements also continue. One of the characters, Cassie, gets her own storyline but it feels too undeveloped in some respects, so is too much focus on her in another. She felt more like a secondary character butting in – I didn’t care much about her, and—to be honest—I didn’t want to have to. She didn’t need so much focus as she just served to distract me from the main event and she removed me from Timbergrove, where I would have preferred to spend the whole book – isolated, claustrophobic and with no reprieve from the two lead characters, Rachel and Ariel.
The ending fell a little flat for me, and I wanted more in the way of justice for a character whose crimes didn’t seem to be properly addressed.
Regardless, Domestic Secrets fulfilled the brief for all good books – it made me think. I thought about my own life, my children, my parenting style, and I pondered that greatest of questions: nature or nurture?
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.