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A Secret Word
by Jennifer Paddock

Category: Fiction / General
0 pages; ISBN: 0743247078

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


A Secret Word
Jennifer Paddock
Touchstone, 2004, $13.00
ISBN: 0743247078

In 1986 Fort Smith, Arkansas, three tenth grade coeds and the boyfriend of one of the trio is in a car crash during an off campus lunch. The boy dies in the crash bonding the threesome with this tragedy. Two of the female students were already close friends coming from the elite of the community while the third belonged to the working poor. Not long after graduating, the affluent duo Chandler and Sarah leave the hicks for the bright lights of Broadway while Leigh remains behind toiling at minimum wage.

Over the years, Chandler and Sarah enjoy the swinging life of the Big Apple until a tragedy forces the former to come home. While Sarah continues jet setting, Leigh tries to help Chandler adapt to her new life.

The novel is an intriguing look over a fifteen-year span at three individuals tied together through the starting point tragedy. The low-key novel rotates first person narratives so that the audience sees the same event or time in separate first-person chapters. The crucial element that makes the tale work is that regardless of whether you remain behind in Fort Smith, move to Manhattan, or return to your small hometown, a person can never escape a pivotal moment calamity that ensures you can never truly leave home.

Harriet Klausner


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