Review: Secrets Between Friends

Secrets Between FriendsSecrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The opening to this story is a gorgeous and heartfelt meeting-of-soul-mates. Jess and Peter are so obviously meant for each other. So, based on the blurb, I’m thinking this is a story about frustrated love and the journey to either the acceptance of what is, or the courage to change it. And it’s exactly that, a lovely story about Peter and Jess sorting themselves out.

For me though, the story was written in a passive style that refused to allow me to immerse myself. Bear with me, the story does redeem itself… Feel free to skip the negatives and go straight to ‘Redemption’. It’s underlined for your convenience.

Telling not showing I’m told every step of the way what the characters were feeling and what was happening, often repeatedly: …the two were like a sugar overdose in a sun-filled room with rainbows and fairies – it’s a lovely line, but we already knew their oneness. …he was her home, her safe place…. Yep, did I mention we knew that already?

Contradictions Often this telling was at odds with the showing: Jess and Peter are on the beach. Guilt is eating at Jess. She’s confused, she’s keeping more than one awful secret from Peter, she misses her baby, and she’s just managed to get her breathing and tears under control. But their behaviour?! arm in arm they strolled along the beach, kicking sand, towards the coffee shop. This is a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, not a cold, calculating sociopath able to keep all her troubles repressed.

Info dumps Such as this forced sentence, a bit much for me on page 6:‘You bet,’ said Ricki van Leeuwin as she passed her colleague Jolene in the hospital corridor.

Mixed messages …they headed for the walkway, Welcome written along it, their access to the ship. The six orange life boats stood out against the vibrant white of the ship, which she hoped didn’t have to be used. Why are you worried about the… Oh… I see now.

Head-hopping Jess sits beside Peter, his eyes masked by dark sunglasses. He doesn’t stir, yet she somehow knows he returned his gaze to the pool.

Weak motivations Jess, Peter, and Abbie run around frantically looking for Ricki, hoping she’s not hurt. But they can’t find her anywhere and their worry increases. So they stop looking for her. And change the subject.

Redemption But I put these personal dislikes aside, allowed myself to be passively led to where I was supposed to go… and then I found the gem. Abbie, you star! This is not about Peter and Jess at all, but about Abbie and her depth and surprises. She was a mystery unravelling before my eyes, becoming more and more real. Initially hard to tell apart from Jess’s voice, Abbie at first appears as a victim, hiding her light under a bushel, seemingly for some kind of misplaced martyrdom. But her flower unfurls. She single-handedly does all the growing in the story.

All in all, I’m glad to have read this story – I just wish I knew what it was really about when I started. Abbie will stay with me for some time yet.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

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