Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Human Condition: One Woman’s Story
This story covers a relatively short period of time in a woman’s life. Best Kept Secret reveals the secret of alcoholism and illustrates the sneaky spiral, the dire consequences and hopeful path to recovery. It is well written and brave; however, I felt it lacked a certain edge that for me made it stand out as unique and groundbreaking.
But that may be the point. The main character, Cadence, is every woman. She’s bright, beautiful, educated, witty, likeable and sympathetic. She marries a man who seems to be her equal at first, but is ultimately portrayed as a selfish and harshly judgmental mama’s boy. The birth of their son, naturally, changes the dynamic of their relationship. And as Cadence’s fear of not-being-good-enough (what new mother doesn’t feel this?) ultimately leads to gaining comfort from ever increasing glasses of red wine, her world falls apart.
I found Cadence to be the only really likable character. The others--husband, mother-in-law, sister, son, counselor, partners in recovery--are either self-serving jerks or too underdeveloped to matter. The story focuses everything on Cadence and keeps one reading only to find out whether or not she triumphs in the end.
I recommend this book to young mothers struggling with mommy-n-me groups who drink wine rather than coffee or tea while their children play, or anyone who drinks in secret and thinks she doesn’t really have a problem. Reading about the fate of Cadence may help the reader come to terms with alcohol addiction and hopefully choose the path to recovery.
If, however, you’re looking for a more brutally honest depiction of the alcoholic spiral that truly helps one to understand the nature and experience of this disease, I recommend Drinking, A Love Story by Carolyn Knapp.
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