Published February 23, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read Rosalind Noonan’s previous novel All She Ever Wanted and loved it. When I read the book description for Domestic Secrets I knew I had to read it. I hoped I would enjoy it as much as her previous novel and I was not disappointed.
I did find that it took me a little while to get into the story but once I did, I had a very hard time putting the book down. While there was a lot going on (at times maybe a little too much) I found most of it very interesting and couldn’t wait to see where and how it would end.
***Possibly some very mild spoilers***
Rachel Whalen and Ariel Alexander have been friends for what seems like forever. Now both are trying to navigate their way through single motherhood. Rachel has two teenage sons and owns a successful hair salon but still struggles to keep her head above water financially.
Ariel is a former tv star who is a bit of a Diva, wanting to hang on to her glory days. She has two teenage daughters as well as two younger children. Ariel gives private voice lessons. As she receives a lot of referrals from the local High School Glee Club she’s kept pretty busy.
Rachel is often more of a mother than a friend to Ariel, always trying to keep her focused and on track. She also finds she seems to worry about Ariel’s children more than Ariel does. In many ways if circumstances hadn’t brought them together you wouldn’t think they would become friends. Rachel does everything for her kids, putting them first while Ariel seems to most often put herself first.
The story is told from three points of view, Rachel, Ariel and Ariel’s oldest daughter Cassie.
Rachel’s son KJ, is in university playing football on a scholarship. However, after frequent injuries he’s in danger of not being able to play anymore which puts his scholarship in jeopardy. Rachel has no idea how they will pay for tuition if he no longer has a scholarship. Her younger son, Jared doesn’t communicate with her as much as she wishes he would. Lacking in self-confidence, he has had a tough time over the years with frequent bullying incidents. However, lately things seem to be improving. He’s even seems happier than normal lately and she suspects he may have a girlfriend.
When Ariel looks in the mirror she wants to see the beautiful young woman she once was. However, Ariel feels she’s one movie or tv role away from making it big again. Self absorbed and narcissistic, she finds that male attention is the only thing that makes her feel better about herself. Often more worried about herself than her children, Ariel tries to fill the emptiness within her with meaningless sex.
Ariel’s daughter eighteen year-old Cassie is happiest when she is away at college studying to be a nurse. She constantly butts heads with her mother. Cassie tries to hold her mother accountable for her actions. She tries to make Ariel step up and take better care of her children. She is often worried about her siblings and thanks god for her mother’s best friend, Rachel as she’s always there to help out when needed. Ariel thinks her daughter is just a negative “stick in the mud.”
Then a horrible tragedy pulls apart the families and changes everything. Everyone wonders what went wrong, especially Rachel. She is completely devastated and it changes everything she thought she knew. She realizes just how much she didn’t know about anyone, especially those closest to her.
The character development was fantastic. The author’s descriptions were very realistic. She seems to have a good handle on describing not only adult friendships and relationships but also the relationships of teenagers both with each other and adults.
We know that there are many things that go on behind closed doors and none of us are perfect but sometimes you are definitely surprised at what goes on in someone’s life. Especially when you thought you knew them so well.
“Sometimes people do terrible things. And I’ll let you in on a secret. Even when you know the reason why they did it, you don’t feel any better.”
This was an emotional read that really made me think about so many different things. Things like nature vs. nurture, bullying, abuse, mental illness, addiction, and secrets. I like books that make me think (even though I sometimes get so mad I want to throw my book or kindle). We all have secrets and no family is perfect. But I think we all hope to get through life relatively unscathed.
This book brought out a lot of emotions in me. I was livid with many of the characters actions comments, and decisions and I was heartbroken at the way things worked out.
While this may not be action packed thriller, it’s just one of those books that’s going to stay with me. I don’t really know how to explain it. I even figured out part of what was going to happen early on but I didn’t care, I was engrossed in what was happening and in the characters. I was still surprised in many ways.
I don’t know if this book is for everyone but I want everyone to read it. It has many important elements, things that are so relevant to what’s happening in our families, the families of people we know, and our children’s lives.
I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to more from Rosalind Noonan.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.