Several weeks ago, I set out to read and review two books by Donna M. Zadunajsky: Family Secrets, and its sequel, Hidden Secrets. After reading the first novel, my reading list blew up, so I have only just finished the second. Both novels were selected from the Book Club Reading List.
One marked way in which this book differs from the first novel, Family Secrets, is how the mystery unfolds. In the first novel, one of the main characters does a fair amount of sleuthing. This is not the case in Hidden Secrets. The main character, Carla, doesn’t exactly uncover or piece the truth together from a collection of clues. Instead, she is explicitly told information as the story progresses. Still, there are several interesting twists and turns along the way.
Carla Michaels’ natural reluctance to trust in others keeps her circle of friends small, but extremely loyal. Despite her supportive connections and fulfilling career, Carla can’t help but feel that her life is incomplete without a child; she desperately wants to be a mother.
Unfortunately, Carla and her husband have tried for a child several times over the course of their marriage; each attempt was unsuccessful.
So when Carla becomes pregnant for the fifth time, her hopes are tentative, and she reserves her joy. And eventually, she and her husband welcome a baby girl into their family.
But it isn’t long before another tragedy shakes the Michaels family and destroys their fragile sense of stability. What is worse, Carla discovers something that will test her emotional endurance even further: a series of journals containing shocking information.
- Emotionally Stirring
Several tragic events and situations crop up – most of which, while heavy enough on their own, connect to Carla’s story. These connections add depth to the plot, and to Carla’s suffering.
- Complex Characters
Carla struggles to cope with a great deal of tragedy in her life. Her methods of managing pain are not always ideal, and the author does not shy away from revealing her flaws. Carla’s relationships are quite dynamic, and the majority of the developed characters are interesting.
- Unconvincing Dialogue
This is particularly noticeable between Carla and her husband, Tim; even though they endure a lot of sorrow together, their conversations are overly simplistic and unnecessarily expository. This disparity detracts from the emotional weight of their circumstances. Though this is not a consistent issue throughout the novel, it happened enough to distract me from the story.
- Awkward Pacing and an Information Dump Toward the End
The quick pace doesn’t seem to match the content, which is emotionally heavy. What is more, the ending felt like a last minute attempt to throw as much extra information at the reader as possible. It made the final plot twists feel more like a collection of hurried little add-ons.
The plot was heavy and twisting; there was definitely a lot of potential for an absorbing read. However, It’s not my kind of book. I do love to cry when I read, but the pacing detracted from its emotional impact. Even so, I did think that the story-line was interesting. If you like quick pacing and family drama, you might like this book. I needed a little more to keep me engaged, but found the idea behind the narrative compelling.
Hidden Secrets by Donna M. Zadunajsky
308 pages Buy on Amazon