Secrets have a lot of power: the power to destroy and redeem. In The Book of Secrets, Elizabeth Joy Arnold sends her protagonist, Chloe, on a journey to uncover the family secrets that devastated her life and her marriage. Despite all she loses, these secrets offer redemption in the end.
Chloe and Nate Sinclair have known and loved each other since childhood. Their love of books is the tie that bound them together, and now they own and operate a bookstore. After Nate leaves suddenly and without a word to go back to their hometown, Chloe finds a journal hidden inside a hollowed-out copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The journal is written in a code that Chloe and Nate used to communicate in childhood. Nate used books that were meaningful to them as children in order to encode it. As Chloe locates the books and works to decode the journal, she has powerful recollections of the past: of her time spent with the Sinclair family, her blossoming romance with Nate, her encounters with Nate’s fanatical preacher father, and one horrific night that shattered all of their lives.
As she deciphers the journal, she travels to her hometown—a place she never wanted to see again—to join Nate. Gradually, the journal reveals secrets that will change everything Chloe believed about her marriage and her husband’s family. Once the truth is out, she and Nate must decide how to move forward with their lives.
Arnold’s prose is as evocative as the story of the Sinclairs is intense and heart-wrenching. I was drawn so deeply into the story that the characters and situations seemed very real. There are very few novels that have affected me so profoundly that they will linger with me for a long time to come. The Book of Secrets is one of those books.