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The Secret Between Us
by Barbara Delinsky

Published: 2008-01-22
Hardcover : 343 pages
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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 ...
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Introduction

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.

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Excerpt

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.

This night, though, the girl fought back. "You're getting hyper about nothing, Mom. Nothing happened."

"You said Megan's parents were going to be home," Deborah reminded her.

"That's what Megan told me."

"I would have thought twice if I'd known there would be a crowd."

"We were studying."

"You, Megan, and Stephie," Deborah said, and, yes, the textbooks were there, damp from Grace's dash to the car in the rain, "plus Becca, and Michael, Ryan, Justin, and Kyle, none of whom were supposed to be there. Three girls study. Four girls and four boys make a party. Sweetie, it's pouring rain, and even above the noise of that, I could hear shrieking laughter all the way from the car."

Deborah didn't know if Grace was looking guilty. Long brown curls hid broad-set eyes, a straight nose and full upper lip. She did hear the snap of her daughter's gum; its spearmint shrouded the smell of wet books. But she quick returned her own eyes to the road, or what she could see of it, despite the wipers working double-time. Visibility on this stretch was poor even on the best of nights. There were no streetlights, and moonshine rarely penetrated the trees.

Tonight the road was a funnel. Rain rushed at them, swallowing the beam of the headlights and thrashing against the windshield - and yes, April meant rain, but this was absurd. Had it been as bad on the way out, Deborah would never have let Grace drive home. But Grace had asked, and Deborah's husband - ex-husband - too often accused her of being over-protective.

They were going slowly enough; Deborah would repeat that many times in subsequent days, and forensics would bear it out. They were less than a minute from home and knew this part of the road well. But the darkness was dense, the rain an unreckoned force. Yes, Deborah knew that her daughter had to actually drive in order to learn how, but she feared this was too much, too soon.

Deborah hated rain. Grace didn't seem fazed.

"We finished studying," the girl argued around the gum in her mouth. Her hands were tight on the wheel, perfectly positioned, nothing wrong there. "It was hot inside, and the AC wasn't on yet, so we opened the windows. We were taking a break. Like, is it a crime to laugh? I mean, it's bad enough my mother had to come to get me - "

"Excuse me," Deborah cut in, "but what was the alternative? You can't drive by yourself on a learner's permit. Ryan and Kyle may have their licenses, but, by law, they're not allowed to take friends in the car without an adult, and besides, we live on the opposite end of town from the others - and what's so bad about your mother picking you up at ten o'clock on a week night? Sweetie, you're barely sixteen."

"Exactly," Grace said with feeling. "I'm sixteen, Mom. I'll have my real license in four months. So what'll happen then? I'll be driving myself places all the time - because we don't only live on the opposite end of town from everyone else, we live in the middle of nowhere, because Dad decided he had to buy a gazillion acres to build a McMansion in the forest, which he then decided he didn't want, so he left it and us and moved to Vermont to live with his long lost love from twenty-five years ago - "

"Grace - " Deborah couldn't go there just then. Grace might feel abandoned by her father, but the loss hit Deborah harder. Her marriage wasn't supposed to end. That hadn't been in the plan.

"Okay, forget Dad," Grace went on, "but once I get my license, I'll be driving places alone, and you won't see who's there or whether there's a parent around, or whether we're studying or having a party. You're going to have to trust me."

"I do trust you," Deborah said, defensive herself now, but pleading. "It's the others I don't trust. Weren't you the one who told me Kyle brought a six-pack to the pool party at Katherine's house last weekend?"

"None of us had any. Katherine's parents made him leave."

"Katherine's parents. Exactly."

Deborah heard her growl. "Mom. We were studying."

Deborah was about to list the things that could happen when teenagers were studying - things she had seen both growing up, when her father was the only family doctor in town, and now, being in practice with him and treating dozens of local teenagers - when a flash of movement entered her line of sight on the right. In quick succession came the jolt of a weighty thud against the front of the car, the slam of brakes, the squeal of tires. Her seatbelt tightened, holding her while the car skidded on the flooded pavement, fishtailed, and spun, all in the space of seconds. When it came to a stop, they were facing backward.

For a minute, Deborah didn't hear the rain over the thunder of her heart. Then, above it, came Grace's frightened cry. "What was that?"

"Are you okay?"

"What was that?" the girl repeated, her voice shaking this time.

Deborah was starting to shake, too, but her daughter was upright, belted in, clearly okay. Scrabbling to release her seat belt, Deborah hiked up the hood of her slicker, and ran out to search for whatever it was they had hit. The headlights reflected off the wet road, but beyond that paltry light, it was totally dark.

Ducking back into the car, she fumbled through the glove box for a flashlight. Outside again, she searched the roadside, but saw nothing that remotely resembled a downed animal.

Grace materialized at her elbow. "Was it a deer?" she asked, sounding terrified.

Deborah's heart continued to pound. "I don't know. Sweetie, get back in the car. You don't have a jacket." It was a warm-enough spring night; she just didn't want Grace seeing what they had hit.

"It had to be a deer," Grace cried, "not even hurt, just run off into the woods - what else could it be?"

Deborah didn't think a deer wore a running suit with a stripe up the side, which was what she swore she had seen in the split second prior to impact. A running suit meant something human.

She walked along the edge of the road, searching the low shrubs with her light. "Hey," she called out to whoever was there, "are you hurt? Hello? Let me know where you are!"

Grace hovered at her shoulder. "Like, it came from nowhere, Mom - no person would be out here in the rain, so maybe it was a fox or a racoon - or a deer, it had to be a deer."

"Get back in the car, Grace," Deborah repeated. The words were barely out when she heard something, and it wasn't the idling car. Nor was it the whine of wind in the trees or the rain splattering everything in sight.

The sound came again, definitely a moan. She followed it to a point at the side of the road and searched again, but it was another minute before she found its source. The running shoe was barely visible in the wet undergrowth some four feet from the pavement, and the black pants rising from it, half-hidden under a low branch of a hemlock, had a blue stripe. A second leg was bent in an odd angle - broken, she guessed - and the rest of him was crumpled against the base of a tree.

Supine, he ran no risk of suffocation in the forest undergrowth, but his eyes were closed. Short dark hair was plastered to his forehead. Scrambling through a clump of wet ferns, Deborah directed her flashlight to his head, but didn't see any blood other than that from a mean scrape on his jaw.

"Omigod!" Grace wailed.

Deborah felt for a pulse at his neck. It was only when she found it that her own began beating again. "Can you hear me?" she asked, leaning close. "Open your eyes for me." He didn't respond.

"Omigod!" Grace cried hysterically. "Do you know who that is, it's my history teacher!"

Trying to think quickly, Deborah pulled her daughter back onto the road and toward the car. She could feel the girl trembling. As calmly as she could, Deborah said, "I want you to run home, honey. It isn't more than half a mile, and you're already soaked. Dylan's alone. He'll be scared." She imagined a small face at the pantry window, eyes large, frightened, and magnified behind thick Harry Potter glasses.

"What'll you do?" Grace asked in a high, wavery voice.

"Call the police, then sit with Mr. McKenna until an ambulance comes."

"I didn't see him, I swear, I didn't see him," wailed Grace. "Can't you do something for him, Mom?"

"Not much." Deborah turned off the engine, turned on the hazards. "I don't see any profuse bleeding, and I don't dare move him."

"Will he die?"

Deborah grabbed her phone. "We weren't going fast. We couldn't have hit him that hard."

"But he got way over there."

"He must have rolled."

"He isn't moving."

"He may have a concussion or be in shock." There were plenty of worse possibilities, most of which, unfortunately, she knew.

"Shouldn't I stay here with you?"

"There's nothing you can do here. Go, sweetie." She cupped her daughter's cheek, frantic to spare her this, at least. "I'll be home soon."

Grace's hair was drenched, separating into long, wet coils. Rain dripped from a gentle chin. Eyes wide, she spoke in a frightened rush. "Did you see him, Mom? Like, why would anybody be walking on the road in the rain? I mean, it's dark, how could I possibly see him, and why didn't he see us? There are no other lights here."

Deborah punched in 9-1-1 with one hand and took Grace's arm with the other. "Go, Grace. I need you home with Dylan. Now." The dispatcher picked up after a single ring. Deborah knew the voice. Carla McKay was a patient of hers. She worked as the civilian dispatcher several nights a week.

"Leyland Police. This call is being recorded."

"Carla, it's Dr. Monroe," she said and shooed Grace off with a hand. _ "There's been an accident. I'm on the rim road, maybe a half mile east of my house. My car hit a man. We need an ambulance."

"How badly is he hurt?"

"He's unconscious, but he's breathing. I'd say there's a broken leg, but I'm not sure what else. The only cut I see is superficial, but I can't look more without moving him."

"Is anyone else hurt?"

"No. How fast can you get someone here?"

"I'll call now."

Deborah closed the phone. Grace hadn't moved. Soaking wet, curls long and bedraggled, she looked very young and frightened.

Frightened herself, Deborah stroked wet hair back from her daughter's cheeks. On a note of quiet urgency, she said, "Grace, I need you home with Dylan."

"I was driving."

"You'll be more of a help to me if you're with Dylan. Please, sweetie?"

"It was my fault."

"Grace. Can we not argue about this? Here, take my jacket." She was starting to slip it off when the girl turned and broke into a run. In no time, she had disappeared in the rain.

Pulling her hood up again, Deborah hurried back into the woods. The smell of wet earth and hemlock permeated the air, but she knew what blood smelled like and imagined that, too. Again, she looked for something beyond the scrape on Calvin McKenna's jaw. She saw nothing.

He remained unconscious, but his pulse was strong. She could monitor that and, if it faltered, could manually pump his chest. Studying the angle of his leg, she suspected that his injury involved the hip, but a hip injury was do-able. A spine injury was something else, which was why she wouldn't move him. The EMTs would have a backboard and head immobilizer. Far better to wait.

It was easier said than done - an endless ten minutes of blaming herself for letting Grace drive, of taking Calvin McKenna's pulse, trying to see what else might be hurt, wondering what had possessed him to be out in the rain, taking his pulse again, cursing the location of their house and the irresponsibility of her ex-husband - before she saw the flashing lights of the cruiser. There was no siren. They were in too rural a part of town for that.

Waving her flashlight, she ran back onto the road and was at the cruiser's door when Brian Duffy stepped out. In his mid-forties, he was one of a dozen officers on the town force. He also coached Little League. Her son Dylan had been on his team for two years.

"Are you all right, Dr. Monroe?" he asked, fitting a plastic-covered cap over his crewcut. He was already wearing a rain jacket.

"I'm fine. But my car hit Calvin McKenna." She led him back to the woods. _ "I can't tell how badly he's hurt." Once over the ferns, she knelt and checked his pulse again. It remained steady. She directed her flashlight at his face; its beam was joined by the officer's.

"Cal?" she called futilely. "Cal? Can you hear me?"

"What was he doing out here?" the officer asked.

Deborah sat back on her heels. "I have no idea. Walking? Running?"

"In the rain? That's strange."

"Particularly here," she said. "Do you know where he lives?" It certainly wasn't nearby. There were four houses in the circle of a mile, and she knew the residents of each.

"He and his wife have a place over by the train station," Brian replied._ "That's a couple miles. I take it you don't treat him?"

"No. Grace has him in school this year, so I heard him speak at the open house last fall. He's a serious guy, a tough marker. That's about all I know." She was reaching for his pulse again when the road came alive with light. A second cruiser arrived, its roofbar thrumming a raucous blue and white. An ambulance was close behind.

Deborah didn't immediately recognize the EMTs; they were young, likely new. But she did know the man who emerged from the second cruiser. John Colby was the police chief. In his late-fifties, he would have been retired had he been working anywhere else, but he had grown up in Leyland. It was understood that he would keep working as long as his health allowed. Deborah guessed that would be a while. He and his wife were patients of her father's. His wife had a problem with allergens - dander, pollen, dust - that had resulted in adult-onset asthma, but John's greatest problem, beyond a pot belly, was insomnia. He worked days; he worked nights. He claimed that being active kept his blood pressure down, and since his blood pressure was chronically low, Deborah couldn't argue.

While John held a floodlight, the EMTs immobilized Calvin. Deborah waited with her arms crossed, hands in the folds of her jacket. He made neither movement nor sound.

She followed them out of the woods and was watching them ease him into the ambulance, when Brian took her arm. "Let's sit in the cruiser. This rain's nasty."

Once inside, she lowered her hood and opened her jacket. Her face was wet; she wiped it with her hands. Her hair, damp and curling, still felt strange to her short after a lifetime wearing it waist-long and knotted at the nape. She was wearing a tank top and shorts, both relatively dry under her jacket, and flip-flops. Her legs were slick and smudged with dirt.

She hated rain. It came at the worst times, defied prediction, and made life messy.

Brian folded himself next to her behind the wheel, and shook his hat outside before closing the door. He took a notebook and pen from a tray between the seats. "I have to ask you a few questions - just a formality, Dr. Monroe." He checked his watch. "Ten-forty-three. And it's D-E-B-O-R-A-H?"

"Yes. M-O-N-R-O-E." She was often mistakenly thought to be Dr. Barr, which was her maiden name and the name of her father, who was something of a legend in town. She had used her married name since her final year of college.

"Can you tell me what happened?" the officer asked.

"We were driving along - "

"We?" He looked alarmed. "I thought you were alone."

"I am now - Grace is home - but I had picked her up at a friend's house - that's Megan Stearns' house - and we were on our way home, going really slowly, not more than twenty-five miles an hour, because the rain was so bad. And suddenly he was there."

"Running along the side of the road?"

"I didn't see him running. He just appeared in front of the car. There was no warning, no time to turn away, just this awful thud."

"Had you drifted toward the shoulder of the road?"

"No. We were close to the center. I was watching the line. It was one of the few guidelines we'd had with visibility so low.

"Did you brake?"

Deborah hadn't braked. Grace had done it. Now was the time to clarify that. But it seemed irrelevant, a technicality.

"Too late," she replied. "We skidded and spun around. You can see where my car is. That's where we ended after the spin."

"But if you drove Grace home -"

"I didn't drive her. I made her run. It isn't more than half a mile. She's on the track team." Deborah wrangled her phone from a soggy pocket. "I needed her to babysit Dylan, but she'll want to know what's happening. Is this okay?" When he nodded, she pressed the speed-dial button.

The phone had barely rung when Grace picked up. "Mom?"

"Are you okay?"

"I'm okay. How's Mr. McKenna?"

"He's on his way to the hospital."

"Is he conscious?"

"Not yet. Is Dylan okay?"

"If being dead asleep on the sofa when I got here means okay, yes. He hasn't moved."

So much for large eyes at the window, Deborah thought, and heard her ex-husband's, You worry too much, but how not to worry about a ten-year-old boy who had hyperopia, plus corneal dystrophy, which meant that he viewed much of his life through a haze. Deborah hadn't planned on that, either.

"Well, I'm still glad you're with him," she said. "Grace, I'm talking with the police officer now. I may run over to the hospital once we're done. You'd probably better go to bed. You have that exam tomorrow."

"I'm going to be sick tomorrow."

"Grace."

"I am. I can't think about biology right now. I mean, like, what a nightmare. If this is what happens when you drive, I'm not doing it. I keep asking myself where he came from. Did you see him on the side of the road?"

"No. Honey, the officer's waiting."

"Call me back."

"Yup." Deborah closed the phone.

The cruiser's rear door opened and John Colby got into the back seat. _ "You'd think the rain'd take a break," he said, adding, "Hard to see much on the road. I took pictures of everything I could, but the evidence won't last long if it stays like this. I just called the state team. They're on their way."

"State team?" Deborah asked, frightened.

"The State Police have an Accident Reconstruction Team," John exlained. _ "It's headed by a credited reconstructionist. He knows what to look for more than we do."

"What does he look for?"

"Points of impact, marks on the car. Where on the road the car hit the victim, where the victim landed. Skid marks. Burned rubber. He rebuilds the picture of what happened and how."

It was only an accident, she wanted to say. Bringing in a state team somehow made it more.

Dismay must have shown on her face, because Brian said, "It's standard procedure when there's personal injury. Had it been midday with the sun out, we might have been able to handle it ourselves, but in weather like this, it's important to work quickly, and these guys can do that." He glanced at his notes. "How fast did you say you were going?"

Again, Deborah might have easily said, Oh, I wasn't the one at the wheel. It was Grace, and she wasn't speeding at all. But that felt like she was trying to weasel out of something - to shift the blame - and besides, Grace was her first-born, her alter-ego, and already suffering from the divorce. Did the girl need more to trouble her? Calvin McKenna was hit either way. No laws had been broken either way.

"The limit here is forty-five," she said. "We couldn't have been going more than thirty."

"Have you had any recent problems with the car?"

"No."

"Brakes working?"

"Perfectly."

"Were the high beams on?"

She frowned, struggling with that one. She remembered reminding Grace, but high beams - low beams - neither cut far in rain like this.

"They're still on," John confirmed from behind, "both working." He put his hat back on his head. "I'm going out to tape off the lane. Last thing we need is someone driving by and fouling the scene."

Deborah knew he meant accident scene, but with a state team coming, she kept thinking crime scene. She was feeling upset about the driver issue, but the questions went on. What time had she left her house to get Grace? What time had Grace and she left Megan's house? How much time had passed between the accident and Deborah's calling it in? What had she done during that time? Had Calvin McKenna regained consciousness at any point?

Deborah understood that this was all part of the investigation, but she wanted to be at the hospital and, if not there, at home with Grace and Dylan.

She glanced at her watch. It was past eleven. If Dylan woke up, he would be frightened to find her still gone; he had been clingy since the divorce, and Grace wouldn't be much help. She would be watching for Deborah in the dark - not from the pantry, which she saw as Dylan's turf, but from the window seat in the living room that they rarely used now. There were ghosts in that room, family pictures from a happier time, in a crowd of frames, an arrogant display of perfection. Grace would be feeling desolate.

A new explosion of light announced the arrival of the state team. As soon as Brian left the cruiser, Deborah opened her phone and called the hospital - not the general number, but one that went straight to the emergency room. She had admitting privileges and had accompanied patients often enough to know the night nurse. Unfortunately, all the nurse knew was that the ambulance had just arrived.

Deborah called Grace. The girl picked up instantly. "Where are you?"

"Still here. I'm sitting in the police car, while they check things outside." She tried to sound casual. "They're reconstructing the accident. It's standard procedure."

"What are they looking for?"

"Whatever they can find to explain why Mr. McKenna was where he was. How's Dylan?"

"Still sleeping. How's Mr. McKenna?"

"Just got to the hospital. They'll be examining him now. Have you talked with Megan or any of the others?" There was the issue of Grace climbing into the car on the driver's side, which might have been seen by her friends, reason to level with the police now.

"They're texting me," Grace said in a shaky voice. "Stephie tried to call, but I didn't answer. What if he dies, Mom?"

"He won't die. He wasn't hit that hard. It's late, Grace. You ought to go to bed."

"When will you be home?"

"Soon, I hope. I'll find out."

Closing the phone, Deborah tucked it in her pocket, pulled up her hood, and went out into the rain. She pulled the hood closer around her face and held it there with a dripping hand.

A good part of the road had been sealed off with yellow tape, made all the more harsh now by klieg lights. Two latex-gloved men were combing the pavement, stopping from time to time to carefully pick up and bag what they found. A photographer was taking pictures of Deborah's car, both its general position on the road and the dent in the front. The dent wasn't large. More noticeable was the shattered headlight.

"Oh my," Deborah said, seeing that for the first time.

John joined her, bending over to study what remained of the glass. "This looks to be the only damage," he said and shot her a quick glance. "Think you can dig out your registration so I can record it?"

She slipped behind the wheel, adjusted the seat, opened the glove box, and handed him the registration, which he carefully recorded. Restowing it, she joined him outside.

"I didn't think of damage," she said, pulling her hood forward again. "I was only concerned with what we'd hit. We thought it was an animal." She peered up at him. "I'd really like to drive to the hospital, John. How long will these fellows take?"

"Another hour or two," he said, watching the men work. "This is their only shot. Rain continues like this and come morning, everything'll be washed out. But anyway, you can't take your car. We have to tow it."

"Tow it? It's perfectly driveable."

"Not until our mechanic checks it out. He has to make sure nothing was wrong that might have caused the accident - brake malfunction, defective wipers, worn tires." He looked at her then. "Don't worry. We'll drive you home tonight. You have another car there, don't you?"

She did. It was Greg's BMW, the one he had driven to and from the office, parked in the Reserved-for-President spot, and kept diligently waxed. He had loved that car, but it, too, was abandoned. When he left for Vermont, he had been in the old Volkswagen Beetle that had sat under a tarp in the garage all these years.

Deborah didn't like the BMW. Greg had bought it at the height of his success. In hindsight, that was the beginning of the end.

Folding her arms over her chest, she watched the men work. They covered every inch of the road, the roadside, and the edge of the forest beyond where Calvin McKenna had landed. More than once, feeling useless and despising the rain, she wondered why she was there and not at the hospital helping out.

The answer, of course, was that she was a family practitioner, not a trauma specialist. And it was her car that had caused harm.

The reality of that loomed larger by the minute. She was responsible - she was reponsible - for the car, for Grace, for the accident, for Calvin McKenna. If she could do nothing for him and nothing for the car, she needed to be home with her children.

Grace huddled in the dark. Each time her cell phone rang, she jumped, held it up, studied the panel. She answered if her mother was calling, but she couldn't talk to anyone else. Megan had already tried. Twice. Same with Stephie Now they were texting.

WER R U? TM ME!

R U THER? HELLO??

When Grace didn't reply, the focus changed.

DUZ YR MM NO ABT TH BR? DD SHE SMLL IT?

R U IN TRBL? U ONLY HD 1.

But Grace hadn't had only one beer, she had two, and even though they were spaced three hours apart, and she hadn't felt high and probably wouldn't even have blown a point-oh-one if she had been breathalyzed, she shouldn't have driven.

She didn't know why she had. She didn't know why these so-called friends of hers - alleged friends, as in provable but not proved - were even mentioning beer in a TM. Didn't they know everything could be traced?

UOK?

Y WONT U TALK?

She wouldn't talk, because her mother was still with the police and Mr. McKenna was at the hospital and it was all her fault - and nothing her friends could say would make it better. view abbreviated excerpt only...

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 rsewell (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 JenLovestoRead (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 mjroseauthor (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 Bogie0712 (see profile) 12/04/10

quick read,interesting topic

 
  "secret between us"by stashin (see profile) 12/03/10

poor ending but great sujbect for discussion

 
  "What would you do?"by lollygil (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 (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 klo (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 KLeaper (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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