A Secret Word: A Novel

A Secret Word: A Novel

by Jennifer Paddock
4.4 19

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Overview

A Secret Word: A Novel by Jennifer Paddock

Jennifer Paddock's incandescent debut novel spans fifteen years in the lives of friends Leigh, Sarah, and Chandler, beginning one fateful day in high school that forever connects them. While Leigh remains stuck in dead-end jobs in their Arkansas hometown, the more privileged Sarah and Chandler move to Manhattan, where Sarah seeks acting fame and Chandler struggles to make sense of her failed relationships, only to be sent reeling by an unexpected tragedy.
Sweeping from the Deep South to New York and interweaving each girl's distinctive voice into a seamless narrative, A Secret Word is a luminous story of friendship and family, sex and secrets, growing up and growing apart. It is about how well you can ever really know another person and the secrets we keep from our friends, our families, and, most important, ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439105795
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 06/18/2008
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Jennifer Paddock is the author of A Secret Word. She lives in Point Clear, Alabama.

Customer Reviews

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Secret Word 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent--filled with heart and beautiful writing. It made me think back to what life was like in my twenties--the job that wasn't what I thought it would be, the bad boyfriends, friendships that would come and go. I related to all the characters, but probably to Chandler the most, who is the main character. I look forward to reading more from Jennifer Paddock.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Totally disappointed with this mediocre book- juvenile waste of time- this is typical chick lit which is an insult to a thinking woman's intelligence
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful novel about three girls who are friends in high school and then go their separate ways. But it is more than just a female friendship book. It is tragic and beautiful and an honest account of what it is like to to be young and sad and hopeful for what your life could become.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The reviews for this book are incredible, so I thought I would check it out. A Secret Word is not the genius work I expected. Overall, I found the book to be decent, but juvenile and maybe should have been classified as 'Young Adult'. I did appreciate the way the author portrayed the 3 main characters as girls who think they know it all, but individually do not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, 'chick lit' has come to equal 'light, fluffy, magazine-esque,' and this book is not that. It is lovely, assured, touching, moving... I loved it. My only complaint is that the cover sorely misrepresents the kind of book this is, full of heart and some seriously quality writing. Marketing dept, wake up! This is a major talent, not just another booze- boyfriends-and-the-city one-book wonder.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is chick lit - but it's really good chick lit. The characters are very real and their stories have that quality of universality your high school English teacher droned on about. You don't have to be from Ft Smith, Arkansas or Manhattan to relate to their plights.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Three generations of women in my family read this book. We all loved it. Parts of it took place in my hometown, and that was cool. But I also liked the scenes in New York City and Florence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a fun novel with fascinating characters and plot turns. And I love the clever chapter headings ('The Kind of Girl He Plays Guitar For', 'A Winter's Daughter', 'Florence in a Room'). So there's smart language here, but also good solid storytelling. I know these girls! you'll say over and over. Then you'll realize, I AM these girls! And, you know what, in the end, it's a good thing, which is really nice to realize.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author, Jennifer Paddock, does something I have never seen anywhere else. Over a significant span of time, she graduates the voices of her characters. Usually an author will cover 15 years or the like by utilizing a reflective voice, someone looking back and using the past tense so that all you get is a mature voice capturing an immature past. Too easy. What Paddock does is use the present tense so that what you witness as the pages pass is human evolution, literally. And she does that not just once, with one narrator. Too easy. Paddock does that with three characters, three narrators, and interweaves their immature, though gradually maturing, voices into a breath-takingly radiant and harmonious tapestry elegant enough for the Vatican. Really. And the surprise is that Paddock does this so softly, so subtly. Technique never overshadows the story of these three unique young women who are narrating because, ultimately, they're just living their lives. They're in love. Or they're not loved. They're desperate to flee their small town. Or they're desperate to return. And while so much goes on, story-wise, emotion-wise, the reader just might miss this intricate network of nuanced language. And that's why I've decided to write this review, simply because no one has yet singled out what I find in this remarkable book to be the most remarkable element about it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read about 20 books so far this summer, because I'm a fast reader, because I love to read, especially during the summer, and I keep comparing everything, even what I like or even like a lot, to this stunning debut by Jennifer Paddock. She sets the bar to a new, higher level for how a book should be written: concise but rich in detail, page-turning but remarkably nuanced and complex. There's a cast of very original characters that weave in and out of this mesmerizing novel--some even real people fictionalized (the use of the tap dancer Savion Glover is extraordinary and so is the singer Freedy Johnston). Every woman should read this book, and every man should who wants to know how we think, how we feel, how we grieve, and how and why we love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Paddock's debut novel is strikingly original. As clever as Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, as poignant as Chang-rae Lee's Aloft, and as fun and easy to read as Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. What else can I compare it to? The Catcher in the Rye. You get the point. A Secret Word is a breathtaker. It's brilliant, and it's musical. Sentences still loop in my head. And you'll never guess where it goes next in plot, or in character, or in insight. Prediction: we have the next Salinger, the next Carver, the next Hemingway. Paddock. Remember the name.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's set in Arkansas, New York, Washington, D.C., and Florence, Italy, and covers 15 years in the lives of three girls. The storylines of the three girls converge and break apart in magical and surprising ways. The characters are new and different, but still feel like someone you know, an older sister, a best friend, a girl you remember from high school.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In A Secret Word, Jennifer Paddock reveals herself to be a new and fresh voice in literature, one sure to be heard from again. Once a talent such as this becomes known, it will almost certainly return to the lists. My congratulations to Ms. Paddock on her success in emerging from the pack of otherwise deserving authors who are still waiting for the 'break' they need. Of course, writing a great book helped.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author, Jennifer Paddock, does something I have never seen anywhere else. Over a significant span of time, she graduates the voices of her characters. Usually an author will cover 15 years or the like by utilizing a reflective voice, someone looking back and using the past tense so that all you get is a mature voice capturing an immature past. Too easy. What Paddock does is use the present tense so that what you witness as the pages pass is human evolution, literally. And she does that not just once, with one narrator. Too easy. Paddock does that with three characters, three narrators, and interweaves their immature, though gradually maturing, voices into a breath-takingly radiant and harmonious tapestry elegant enough for the Vatican. Really. And the surprise is that Paddock does this so softly, so subtly. Technique never overshadows the story of these three unique young women who are narrating because, ultimately, they're just living their lives. They're in love. Or they're not loved. They're desperate to flee their small town. Or they're desperate to return. And while so much goes on, story-wise, emotion-wise, the reader just might miss this intricate network of nuanced language. And that's why I've decided to write this review, simply because no one has yet singled out what I find in this remarkable book to be the most remarkable element about it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed with the plot of this novel. I had to force myself to finish the book and by the last chapter, I was still asking what was the purpose of the plot. I was expecting the events to tie into the characters, but they didn't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Secret Word caught my eye in bookstores a number of times, with its flashy cover, but it wasn't until I read a very poignant excerpt in the New York Times was I compelled to buy it and read it, and I learned all over again why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Not that I don't like the cover, I just thought the book might ONLY be fun and flashy and ONLY for young girls. This book, though, is for ANYONE, and amazingly it's about EVERYTHING--the burden of parents, the sadness of love, the necessity of art, and the interesting dynamic of friendships unbeknownst to us, among other things. My point: there's a wild, exhilarating unpredictability to this novel--with its structure of leaping time and alternating voices, and how the three heroines grow into very wise women who observe the world much more perceptively than most of us. A Secret Word is definitely a fun book, but it's also a thoughtful one. One I can't stop thinking about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book mesmerized me. Totally. Like a Coldplay CD, by how musical, how circular and soothing the writing style is, and how it riffs with themes as easily, really brilliantly, as it does with seemingly benign details, like the color of a golf tee or the shape of a scar. I like to underline lines that I like a lot when I read so I can come back to them and reread them. Here are some: 'Leigh is the kind of girl who hangs around girls who get in fights.' 'I don't feel anything. And when I should feel something, some kind of gratitude, it is too late, and my chance to feel what I should have felt has passed.' 'Outside it's snowing, big flakes coming down like linen between the buildings.' 'I shake my head, and before I can speak, as if he knows what I'm about to say, he shakes his head, too, and we're now rocking, locked in each other's grasp, smiling and shaking our heads, then nodding, as if to questions and declarations in a language we have just discovered and is all our own.' 'The salt air is medicine to me, and I am now certain that I will become who I really am here, to be cured of all that I never was.' Paddock is real. Lyrical without being boring, and wise without being pretentious. I recommend A Secret Word highly, highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful, beautiful, fun, sad, seductive book. I can¿t think of another novel that captures the female experience as this one does, and so perfectly. There are three main characters, three friends with three very different backgrounds, and their lives are intricately and poetically woven over the span of fifteen years--between ages 15 and 30. Leigh, Chandler, and Sarah strive and struggle, but when the novel ends, it seems they know everything that they need to know, or can be known. That¿s the amazing trick to this book. There¿s rare honesty, and wisdom, in Jennifer Paddock¿s writing. I read it straight through in one day and one late night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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