cover image The Deepest Secret

The Deepest Secret

Carla Buckley. Bantam, $26 (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-53524-5

In Buckley’s (Invisible) superb third novel, ordinary human nature and extraordinary circumstances collide to powerful effect. The story offers the intricate suspense and surprise of a thriller, along with rich characterizations and nuanced writing. Teenager Tyler Lattimore has xeroderma pigmentosum, which makes the slightest exposure to ultraviolet light potentially fatal. His mother, Eve, shapes their lives around his safekeeping, struggling to nurture her husband and daughter while managing Tyler’s complex needs. On the way to the airport one rainy night, Eve’s car hits something as she is texting. Horrified, she discovers not an animal but her best friend Charlotte’s young daughter, dead, alongside a deserted road. If she simply drives on, Charlotte will suffer terror, confusion, perhaps even accusation. Yet reporting the accident risks jail time and depriving Tyler of Eve’s protection, and Eve of precious moments in his fragile life. As Eve faces her choice, Tyler reaches for freedom and normalcy under cover of darkness. The story’s suburban world is beautifully observed, its characters convincing, flawed, and sympathetic. Ultimately, Buckley delivers a gripping read and a memorable reflection on the conflicting imperatives of love. (Feb.)