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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

I normally shy away from "issue" novels, but Amy Hatvany's compelling language and accurate characterization, so firmly rooted in the real life of thousands of people, drew me along with such a firm grasp that I couldn't put it down. Through the magic of her honest writing style, the reader comes to genuinely like the main character, Cadence, as she tries and fails to cope with tremendous pressures. We sympathize with her when she slowly realizes that she alone cannot maintain a writing career to earn money and raise her son the way she wants to without help. But she feels utterly alone, in spite of the support of her beloved sister and the moms in the various groups she takes her to, who seem enviably "together," with no problems they can't handle. As she indulges too much in the relief of alcohol, her inevitable downward slide is just as surprising to the reader as it is to Cadence. Even as she researches the symptoms of alcohol addiction on the internet, she reaches rock bottom and loses it all when her ex husband takes their boy and sues for custody.

Although most of the readers of this book will be "normies," who don't drink too much, Hatvany's vivid exploration of Cadence's thought processes and the revulsion she feels even as as purchases and pours the wine and vodka forces us to see how her predicament is a possibility for so many everyday people who can't ask for help for whatever reason. This novel will help anyone with any kind of addiction to feel less alone, and anyone who knows an addict to learn what they can do to help.

In short: beautifully written, realistic, by a sensitive writer, and highly recommended.