Book Review: Best Kept Secret – Amy Hatvany

Title: Best Kept Secret
Author: Amy Hatvany
ISBN: 9781439193310
Pages: 352
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

Ever since her divorce, Cadence has been scrambling to keep up with life. The money from her divorce settlement has almost run out, and the freelance writer’s market is difficult. Cadence is afraid she won’t be able to support her beloved young son, Charlie. She begins drinking as a way to take the edge off the day – a glass of wine after Charlie goes to bed. But it soon escalates to a point where the alcohol, and not Cadence, is in control, and she is in danger of losing her son.

Review:

I knew Best Kept Secret would be an emotional read, but what I didn’t expect was how it captured me from the very first page. From the very beginning, Cadence is a woman that is easy to sympathize with. Of course, she is not perfect and she’s made many mistakes along the way, but she has the reader’s heart from the first page. This is crucial, because as Cadence flashes back to her descent into alcoholism, she makes some horrible choices because of her addiction.

In hands less talented than Amy Hatvany’s, Cadence might have become an object of disgust for the reader. But instead, Hatvany’s nuanced and incredibly honest portrayal of an alcoholic will really speak to readers, mothers and non-mothers alike. Cadence is a single mom just struggling to get by – who can blame her for wanting a couple of glasses of wine at night after Charlie has gone to sleep? But the way her drinking escalates is incredibly realistic and frightening at the same time.

Hatvany also discusses the challenges facing alcoholics in an accessible way. The judgment, the idea that it is about a lack of self-control, the hesitation to call alcoholism a disease – Cadence experiences it all on her road to recovery.  The most difficult part in my eyes was the isolation Cadence felt. The people she used to know didn’t understand her anymore. She couldn’t run out to grab a martini with her girlfriends because she was an alcoholic, something they couldn’t understand and instead judged Cadence for. It was heartbreaking and beautifully portrayed.

Though my review of this novel may make it sounds difficult to read, it’s not, and I honestly found that astonishing. I was prepared for a hard read I would have to slog through, but instead, I found an accessible and gripping novel. Hatvany’s prose draws the reader in from the very first sentence; the book reads very quickly, and readers won’t want to put it down. It’s also surprisingly uplifting and heartwarming; Cadence has to work hard to come to a place of acceptance, but her journey is rewarding.

I’ve discussed the realism of this novel, and how honest it felt, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that the author is a recovering alcoholic. This is such an emotionally raw novel that will hold you from beginning to end. The story is fictional, but Hatvany understands what it is to be an alcoholic. I imagine this was a difficult book to write and share with the world, and I am so impressed by the results.

I can’t say enough great things about Best Kept Secret. It’s intense and personal and honest and emotional, yet it is beautiful and real and uplifting. I loved the contradictions in this book, how it made me want to laugh with joy and cry at the same time. I was so emotionally involved in Cadence’s journey, and I was so sorry to leave her at the end of the novel. Amy Hatvany is an author to watch for me; I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a good book. Adding it to my tbr list because your review makes me think I’d be glad I read it.

  2. Sounds like a good book. Adding it to my tbr list because your review makes me think I’d be glad I read it.

  3. I just got this book the other day, thanks to your review, I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ve been trying to find more fiction dealing with addiction and alcoholism and this sounds like it’s going to be an emotional read for me.

  4. I just got this book the other day, thanks to your review, I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ve been trying to find more fiction dealing with addiction and alcoholism and this sounds like it’s going to be an emotional read for me.

  5. Sounds amazing. I’m glad you underscored that the book was accessible, because the subject matter seems a bit off-putting. Great review.

  6. Sounds amazing. I’m glad you underscored that the book was accessible, because the subject matter seems a bit off-putting. Great review.

  7. As you read this one, and commented on twitter I added it to my tbr list. It sounds very deep, but good too. I look forward to reading it.
    You write such wonderful reviews, thank you.

  8. As you read this one, and commented on twitter I added it to my tbr list. It sounds very deep, but good too. I look forward to reading it.
    You write such wonderful reviews, thank you.

  9. I think that the fact that the author also had problems with alcoholism would probably make this an intensely interesting and realistic read, and I am eager to try this one out for myself after hearing the praise that you have given it. It does indeed sound like a painful story, but also one that’s very rewarding. Great review, Swapna. I am glad that you enjoyed this one so much. On to the wish list it goes!

  10. I think that the fact that the author also had problems with alcoholism would probably make this an intensely interesting and realistic read, and I am eager to try this one out for myself after hearing the praise that you have given it. It does indeed sound like a painful story, but also one that’s very rewarding. Great review, Swapna. I am glad that you enjoyed this one so much. On to the wish list it goes!

  11. All of your reviews make me want to run out and buy the book. You have such a variety of books. Great review! Adding to my wishlist…

  12. All of your reviews make me want to run out and buy the book. You have such a variety of books. Great review! Adding to my wishlist…

  13. I’m not reading your review too closely because I’ve already got this book on hand, but I’m excited to see you gave a 5 out of 5. Sounds like I should get to it sooner rather than later!

  14. I’m not reading your review too closely because I’ve already got this book on hand, but I’m excited to see you gave a 5 out of 5. Sounds like I should get to it sooner rather than later!

  15. I haven’t heard of this book before but you’ve made it sound so amazing I now need to know more about it! Thanks for turning me onto it :)

  16. I haven’t heard of this book before but you’ve made it sound so amazing I now need to know more about it! Thanks for turning me onto it :)

  17. When I saw you had read this book, I couldn’t wait to see your review. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts. It was phenomenal. It was one of those books that stuck with me days after finishing the book.

    Great review!

  18. When I saw you had read this book, I couldn’t wait to see your review. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts. It was phenomenal. It was one of those books that stuck with me days after finishing the book.

    Great review!

  19. Great review! This book has been on my must read list since I first heard about it. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  20. Great review! This book has been on my must read list since I first heard about it. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  21. I’m reading this one right now and can’t put it down! As a mom of young kids, I can relate to a lot in this story–although I drink so little that I could be called a non-drinker, I will admit to hitting my daughter’s potty training treats a little too hard during naptime.

    This is an excellent book and thank you for letting me know about it.

  22. I’m reading this one right now and can’t put it down! As a mom of young kids, I can relate to a lot in this story–although I drink so little that I could be called a non-drinker, I will admit to hitting my daughter’s potty training treats a little too hard during naptime.

    This is an excellent book and thank you for letting me know about it.

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