Secret Girl

( 4 )

Overview

For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves. For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards--the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir.

When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the family's eldest daughter, finds herself newly sober at the age of thirty-eight, she finally seeks out and comes...

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Secret Girl

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Overview

For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves. For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards--the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir.

When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the family's eldest daughter, finds herself newly sober at the age of thirty-eight, she finally seeks out and comes face-to-face with this secret: Anne, a younger sister who was diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") and mental retardation, was institutionalized. Anne has never been home to visit, and Molly Jacobs has never seen her. Full of trepidation, she goes to meet her sister for the first time. As the book unfolds and the sisters grow close, Jacobs learns of the decades of life not shared and gains surprising insights about herself, including why she drank for most of her adult life. In addition, she gradually comes to understand that her parents' reasons for placing Anne in a state institution were far more complex than she'd ever imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An important story, heartbreakingly vivid, and beautifully told."
-Jane Bernstein, author of Bereft: A Sister's Story

"Painful secrets are brought to light in this rueful, honest account."
-Publishers Weekly

"Secret Girl is an unwaveringly courageous, wisely seen, and gorgeously written book about family secrets, indelible loss, and the healing power of reconciliation that stands equal to groundbreaking memoirs like Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss, and Lucy Grealey's Autobiography of a Face."
-Julie Checkoway, author of the forthcoming book Waiting for Hockney and director of the forthcoming documentary Waiting for Hockney

"Molly Bruce Jacobs takes you on a rollercoaster ride through the range of emotions a family experiences when the parents choose to institutionalize their daughter."
-Steve Morgan, executive director of the Arc of Baltimore

"Secret Girl is a compelling evocation of the dynamics of one family around an invisible sister tucked away into an institution, and the long journey of the author to claim her sister, and claim herself. This is a memorable book...The author's accurate eye and deep desire for truth make this book a necessary one to enter, a great visit to the birth of love between sisters, and to its persistence."
-Anya Achtenberg, Zoetrope Award-winning author and poet

Praise for Molly Bruce Jacobs's award-winning short story collection Small Burials:
"The author writes effortless prose. She is confident of the worlds...being created, and that confidence and a clarity of vision pull the reader in and make all the stories believable and poignant...This is wonderful work."
-Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312364069
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 385,126
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Molly Bruce Jacobs’s short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and her articles and essays have appeared in AARP The Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, Redbook, and various other publications.  Before turning to writing full-time, Jacobs practiced law in Baltimore, Maryland.  She now lives in western Massachusetts.

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Reading Group Guide

For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves.  For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards—the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir. 

When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the family’s eldest daughter, finds herself newly sober at the age of thirty-eight, she finally seeks out and comes face-to-face with this secret: Anne, a younger sister who was diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) and mental retardation, was institutionalized.  Anne has never been home to visit, and Molly Jacobs has never seen her.  Full of trepidation, she goes to meet her sister for the first time.  As the book unfolds and the sisters grow close, Jacobs learns of the decades of life not shared and gains surprising insights about herself, including why she drank for most of her adult life.  In addition, she gradually comes to understand that her parents' reasons for placing Anne in a state institution were far more complex than she'd ever imagined. 

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Heartbreaking, eye opening

    I always wonder what would have happened if my sweet son who has severe autism and lives at home with his family, would have been born to my parents or anyone of a different era or mindset..now I know. Going to give it to my own sister to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Great Read

    Heart warming, and horrifying at times, this book tells of a confusing and awkward discovery/meeting of a hidden family member.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2006

    What Would the Neighbors Say?

    Molly Bruce Jacobs reveals a secret society that creates havoc, disbelief, and self destruction. A poignant memoir complete with self disclosure, self acceptance and death on the wings of angels.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2006

    Secret Girl: A Well-Kept Secret

    I flew through this book in one weekend. Although it's a memoir, Secret Girl reminded me of a mystery as the author carefully unravels the unknown of her sister's past. Molly Bruce Jacobs does an admirable job of telling the story with clarity, candor, objectivity and passion while occasionally battling her own demons. If you enjoy well-told stories that keep their readers in suspense, you will love this book. You will be fascinated and at the same time, touched. The book is simply riveting from start to finish there are not many books about which I can say that.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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