No One Tells Everything
Rae Meadows
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Buy *No One Tells Everything* by Karen Essex online

No One Tells Everything
Rae Meadows
MacAdam/Cage
Paperback
330 pages
June 2009
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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In No One Tells Everything, two of society's outsiders are drawn together, both burdened by their bottled-up feelings and by family messages that have been left unsaid. For the emotionally brittle Grace, memory can be a finicky chronicler that moves and splits and reconnects as she tries to battle with her day-to-day life in Manhattan, working as a copy editor for a weekly news magazine.

When she's not drinking Chardonnay at her local watering hole with Jimmy the barman, her only real friend and her ever-willing co-conspirator, Grace is refusing to cultivate anyone else in particular. Instead, it is the constant television news reports of Sarah Shafer, a honey-hared freshman recently vanished from the quiet campus of a small college two hours from the city, that most attract Grace.

Sarah's unrealized possibilities gradually become a reflection of Grace's own fractured existence as she searches for a wedge of hope "lodged like a splinter refusing to surface." When the search for Sarah's killer reveals a suspect, Charles Raggatt, and an accompanying explanation "a cocky rich kid, a pretty girl, a sexual advance gone bad" - Grace becomes ever more intrigued, and later obsessed.

Trying to find answers, Grace begins to investigate the circumstances leading to up to Charles' friendship with Sarah through letters to Charles and later phone calls to him. Unexpectedly, this bond and unlikely friendship, and the knowledge of Charles' difficult and isolated circumstances, unlock Grace's demons regarding her fractured childhood and her memories of her sister Callie's sudden death.

Always considered the willful and prized daughter, "her brown eyes shining with defiance," Callie was only eight when one afternoon old Mr. Jablonski's wood-sided Aspen veered around the curve. She bounced up onto the car's hood like a ragdoll, coming to rest in the cradle of a crushed windshield.

Over the years, Grace has tried desperately to come to terms with her part in the accident, and also with her tight-lipped mother and stoic father's lonely resistance. In the months following Callie's death, Grace's parents retreated her mother to her bedroom and her three-hour walks, and her father to his bourbon. Grace had no choice but to grow blind, deaf and mute to the silent suffering of her parents.

Although in her bourgeoning friendship with Charles Grace finds a measure of tenderness in the midst this grief, she still cannot help but fall into the darkness, immolating herself with drink and tawdry one-night stands, forcing her mind blank while pushing away all of these warped visions of Callie that she has created over the years.

Still, steadfast and intuitive to the end, Grace remains certain that there is more to Charles's violent actions than initially meet the eye. Surprisingly, it is Charles' ever-present voice that eventually rescues Grace from the emotions that have thrust her into self-destructive mode and from the theories that she has blindly accepted over the years since Callie's death.

Digging deep into her characters' tortured inner lives, author Rae Meadows beautifully exposes both Charles and Grace's cracked and twisted childhoods, her story steadily unfolding with a sense of the inevitable as two desperate people lost amid the thorny branches of life, zealously cling to each other, increasingly desperate to find their way.

Click here for Michael Leonard's interview with No One Tells Everything author Rae Meadows

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Michael Leonard, 2008

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