6 reviews

The Secret Between Us
by Barbara Delinsky

Published: 2008-01-22
Hardcover : 343 pages
12 members reading this now
6 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 6 members
Showcasing the taut, perceptive storytelling that has made Barbara Delinsky one of America’s most alluring novelists, The Secret Between Us features a family that is forced to confront its greatest frailties while hiding a dangerous secret from their small-town community. In the novel’s ...
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Showcasing the taut, perceptive storytelling that has made Barbara Delinsky one of America’s most alluring novelists, The Secret Between Us features a family that is forced to confront its greatest frailties while hiding a dangerous secret from their small-town community. In the novel’s arresting opening scene, physician Deborah Monroe and her teenage daughter are traveling down a dark, rain-slick road when their car hits a pedestrian. The accident places Deborah in a dilemma that threatens to damage her family ties, not only with her children but also her renegade sister and their father, a recent widower. As details emerge about the accident victim—an aloof local teacher who wove his own web of secrecy—Deborah must find a way to reconcile her worst fears with the truth of that terrible night.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


Chapter 1
They were arguing in the seconds before impact. Later, Deborah Monroe would agonize about that, wondering whether, had she been focused solely on the road, she might have seen something sooner and been able to prevent what occurred - because the argument had been nearly as distracting as the storm. She and her daughter never argued. They were similar in looks, temperament, and interests. Deborah rarely had to tweak Grace - her son, Dylan, yes, but not Grace. Grace usually understood what was expected and why. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. What did the scenes depicting the accident reveal about the family dynamics between Deborah and Grace? How would you or your parents have reacted in a similar situation?

2. How does Deborah reconcile her role as a mother with her role as a daughter? What aspects of her upbringing does she try to avoid repeating? How did your perception of her family shift throughout the novel?

3. Do Jill and Deborah remember their mother the same way? How is their family affected by her absence? What accounts for the distinctions between Jill’s and Deborah’s paths in life?

4. Discuss the power and lack of power created by the many secrets woven throughout the novel. Which deceptions (including self-deceptions) harm the characters the most? Which deceptions are unavoidable?

5. Compare Grace and Dylan. How do they cope with their vulnerabilities? Do they respond to their parents’ divorce in essentially the same way, or are their temperaments distinct?

6. Why was Calvin so secretive during his lifetime? What do his brother’s observations about their childhood tell us about Calvin’s outlook on life? How did your initial theories compare to the truth of Calvin’s death?

7. Why was it difficult for Karen to realize the truth about Hal’s infidelity? What sustains marriages such as theirs?

8. In what way do Deborah and her father view their role as physicians differently? How do they define the keys to healing?

9. What does it take for Deborah to trust Tom? How might their relationship have unfolded without the tension of a possible lawsuit on the part of Calvin’s widow? In Tom’s case, did the law help or hinder his quest for the truth?

10. Is Grace’s wish to take responsibility for the accident related to her feelings about her parents’ divorce? Or is she simply an honest young woman who wants to do the right thing? Does Greg respond appropriately to her self-destructive behavior?

11. What was Greg looking for when he married Rebecca? How was his perception of himself and his family transformed in the novel’s closing chapters?

12. Why does Grace give Danielle the cold shoulder when she so badly needs someone to talk to? What do their fathers have in common?

13. What is it like to live in a close-knit community such as Leyland? On what basis do the residents judge one another? Who determines who the power brokers will be? How would Deborah and Grace’s situation have changed if the accident had taken place in a large city?

14. In the end, was justice served by John’s decision? What was his share of the responsibility in perpetuating the secret?

15. What makes the rain an appropriate sign for representing transformations, both when Deborah is with Tom and in the final images of Grace?

16. In what way does The Secret Between Us underscore dilemmas of truth and dishonesty explored in Barbara Delinsky’s previous works? What distinguishes this novel from the other Delinsky fiction you have read?

17. What is the most significant secret you have ever tried to keep? What led you to reveal the truth?

Suggested by Members

How can the expectations of others (mother/daughter/son; father/daugher(s) etc.) influence our own personal decisions and choices??
Control was an issue with several of the characters in the book -- talk about their different methods of control -- and if it worked for them in the long term.
by joleen (see profile) 10/05/09

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Dear Friend,

The Secret Between Us has been in my mind for years. Do you remember Grace Kelly? Remember how she died? I do. I also remember the way her daughter Stephanie acted out for years afterward. Stephanie was in the car with Princess Grace that day. She was 15 at the time.

Part of me always wondered if Stephanie had been at the wheel. If so, I could understand Prince Ranier keeping it secret. After all, Grace was gone. No amount of lifelong, public shame for Stephanie would bring her back. Would he know that there was a price to pay for a harmless lie?

The Secret Between Us makes us think about the decisions we make on impulse and the toll this can take on our relationships with our parents, our children, our siblings, and our friends. As Deborah Monroe and her family try to rectify a lie gone bad, so, perhaps, will those of us reading about her come to terms with decisions we wish we hadn’t made.

This is the kind of meaty book my own book group loves. Too bad I don’t let them discuss my work! I hope you discuss it, though. Then visit www.barbaradelinsky.com or email me at [email protected]

to give me your thoughts.

Ever truly,

Barbara Delinsky

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "I liked it"by Alyson S. (see profile) 07/05/11

I liked the book but it was alittle slow & it took me awhile to get to the end. I dont think i would read it again!

  "Page-turner about a mother trying to protect her teen daughter after she made a terrible mistake"by Jen M. (see profile) 03/21/11

Delinsky really gives a reading group something to talk about here--just how far would you go to save your child trouble? What if the trouble in question was a consequence that normally you'd say perhaps... (read more)

  "Unpredictable and About Something Provactive"by MJ R. (see profile) 03/11/11

This really is a provocative book about how when we lies for love we can destroy instead of help. If you like Jodi Picoult I think you'll love Delinsky.

  "The Secret Between Us"by Debbie L. (see profile) 12/04/10

quick read,interesting topic

  "secret between us"by roseann s. (see profile) 12/03/10

poor ending but great sujbect for discussion

  "What would you do?"by Laura G. (see profile) 12/03/10

Parents try to protect their children,but is it always right to let them shirk responsibility?

  "Ok -- but could have been better"by Joleen R. (see profile) 10/05/09

Actually, the book club discussion was much better than the actual book. We delved into the personalities of the individuals in the the book and what drove them to do and say what they did, and the expectations... (read more)

  "Kept us interested..."by Kim S. (see profile) 08/31/09

We have been striking out as a book club lately and we decided this book kept our interest. We felt like it lacked a "high" point and at times seemed somewhat unbelievable but overall was an easy, enjoyable... (read more)

  "Family secrets and their affect on the family unit"by Kelly L. (see profile) 04/30/08

This book had a lot of potential but fell short. Too many themes that were underdeveloped!

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