The Deepest Secret: A Novel

The Deepest Secret: A Novel

by Carla Buckley

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The Deepest Secret: A Novel by Carla Buckley

What if you did something unforgivable—and had to live with it? This intimate, page-turning family drama for readers of Jodi Picoult explores the profound power of the truths we’re scared to face . . . about our marriages, our children, and ourselves.
Eve Lattimore is barely keeping things together. Her husband works fifteen hundred miles away, leaving Eve to juggle singlehandedly the demands of their teenaged daughter and fragile son. Tyler was born with XP—the so-called vampire disease: even one moment of sun exposure can have fatal consequences. So Eve does what any mother might do: she turns their home into a fortress. Every day, she watches the sun rise and fall, and keeps a close eye on her child. Friendships fall away. Her marriage is on the rocks. Her daughter’s going through something but won’t talk about it. Still, Eve believes that it’s all a matter of time before a cure is found, and everything can resume its normal course.
Until the night she makes a terrible decision, and it’s not only the sun she has to hide from. 

Praise for The Deepest Secret
“A taut family drama . . . smart and thrilling.”People
“Elegant, poignant, and utterly riveting . . . a suspenseful tale of love, forgiveness, and sacrifice that will leave you asking how far a mother really should go to protect her family and wondering about the cost of the secrets we all keep, even from ourselves.”—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia
“Exceptionally moving and unrelentingly suspenseful . . . everything a great novel, and thriller, should be.”—Providence Journal
“Superb . . . The story offers the intricate suspense and surprise of a thriller, along with rich characterizations and nuanced writing. . . . A gripping read and a memorable reflection on the conflicting imperatives of love.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Carla Buckley masterfully portrays an ordinary family trapped in a heart-wrenching crisis.”—William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob
“Fans of Jodi Picoult will enjoy this compelling blend of ripped-from-the-headlines suspense and close-to-your-heart characters.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fear Nothing

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345539663
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/04/2014
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 6,582
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Carla Buckley is the author of The Deepest Secret, Invisible, and The Things That Keep Us Here, which was nominated for a Thriller Award as a best first novel and the Ohioana Book Award for fiction. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Wharton School of Business, and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband and three children. She is currently at work on her next novel, The Good Goodbye.

Read an Excerpt

Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, so Eve plans a party. There are the usual anxieties. Who would come? Would Tyler like his presents? Then there are the special worries, the ones other people didn’t have to think about. She won’t focus on those.

She makes a cake, a bigger-than-life-size iPad that takes a day and a half to decorate instead of the six hours the Internet site promised. The problem is getting the paint the right consistency so the lake doesn’t bleed into the shoreline. And all those tiny icons. She’s tossed dozens in the trash, false starts where the Facebook f was too wobbly and the camera came out looking as though a giant thumb had pressed down hard. She hesitates over balloons. Do they even matter at night? In the end, she decides, why not, and drives home from the party store with so many fat balloons crammed into her backseat that she can’t see out her rearview mirror. She imagines being pulled over by the police for driving under the influence of helium.

Melissa’s in the kitchen when Eve arrives home, and helps carry in the bags. She reaches for the balloons and frowns at the rainbow of colors. “Pink, Mom, really?”

Melissa’s long black hair is pulled back in an untidy topknot Eve knows her daughter has worked for hours to achieve. One of her tank top straps is twisted, revealing the pale strip of skin beneath where the sun hasn’t lingered. Eve wants to tug it straight and warn her daughter to be careful, but Melissa has heard it all before. “Pink looks good in moonlight,” Eve says.

A knock on the kitchen door. It’s Charlotte and Amy, arriving early to help. Dear Charlotte.

What would Eve do without her kindness, her humor? Charlotte has pulled her through the dark days. She has kept Eve sane.

“One spicy chili dip, extra sour cream by request,” Charlotte says, setting down the dish on the counter. She’s wearing a determined smile on her face. Amy looks mutinous. Eve guesses they’ve been having another mother-daughter battle all the way down the street.

Charlotte’s hair is short and dyed dark red. It cups her head and suits her high cheekbones and long neck. The day after Owen served her with divorce papers, Charlotte went out and had her long blond hair chopped off. What do you think? she’d demanded as she stepped into Eve’s kitchen. She’d run her fingers through the short wisps, making them stand up. Do I look like someone who knows how to have a good time?

Amy’s carrying a package, the electric blue wrapping paper crumpled at the corners and the white ribbon twisted into a crooked bow. “It’s Force Field Three,” she confides in a whisper, as if

Tyler could hear her all the way from his room upstairs. “Do you think he’ll like it?” Her brown eyes are wide and her lashes pale gold, a smatter of freckles across the tops of her cheeks. She’s a sprite, a funny little elf always dressed in shades of pink, much to Charlotte’s private dismay. She thinks it shows no imagination.

“He’ll love it,” Eve promises, putting a hand on the child’s small shoulder. Is it okay that Tyler spends so much time staring at a computer screen?

They go out onto the patio, the air heavy with heat. Amy skips off to help Melissa tie the balloons to the trampoline. The sun’s holding itself just above the horizon, sending out greedy shoots of orange light that carves shadows across the patio and grass. Eve used to love the sun, would lounge outside for hours, letting it toast her skin, her face tilted to the warmth. But this is as close as she comes to the sun now.

“Any word from David?” Charlotte asks, and Eve shakes her head. There weren’t that many flights between Columbus and Washington, DC. It could be that David had raced to make the last one and hadn’t had a chance to call beforehand. I’ll try and be there, he’d said. If he could wrap up the project he’s working on. If he could catch an earlier flight. She could drown in ifs.

“He’s bringing Tyler’s present. He would have let me know if he wasn’t going to be here.” She says this, wanting reassurance. She says this, wanting to make it true.

“Maybe he wants to surprise you.”

Wouldn’t that be wonderful? The gate would creak open and David would step into the yard, his brown hair rumpled over his high forehead, that knowing smile that reached up to his blue eyes. David used to love to surprise her with a note taped to the bathroom mirror, a single flower sent special delivery.

Her parents haven’t called, either. But at least they’d sent a card, a blue envelope propped on the kitchen table where Tyler would find it when he came downstairs. Inside would be the usual check, which Tyler would pretend to be thrilled about. Money meant nothing to him. How could it?

At 8:11, the bolt shoots back and Tyler shuffles out of his room, his camera in his hand. “Happy birthday,” she says, throwing her arms around him. He ducks his head in embarrassment, lamplight winking across the lenses of his sunglasses.

“Happy birthday, dweeb,” Melissa says, lightly cuffing him on the shoulder.

His friends are on the patio, elbowing and jostling. Four of them, when there should be seven, but at least his best friend’s there. The boys are all different heights and sizes, caught at that awkward stage where they don’t even look like they belong to the same species. They cheer when Tyler steps out to join them. He fits right among them, not too tall, not too short. He smiles when he sees the glowing paper lanterns. “Cool,” he says, and holds up his camera.

The pizza arrives and Charlotte helps her set out the food. Amy flits around, snatching up a piece of fruit, chasing fireflies blinking in the distance. A few neighbors have shown up. It’s painful to see Albert without Rosemary. He’s aged, moving slowly, holding onto the back of a chair for support. Sophie makes a brief appearance, and so does Neil Cipriano, who stands a careful distance away from everyone. No sign of the new neighbors, the Rylands, but that’s no surprise. Charlotte had been the one to sell them the house, and she’d raved about how wonderful they were. You’ll love them, she’d assured Eve. They’re the sweetest family. But Charlotte knew her reassurances meant nothing until Eve had a chance to talk to them about Tyler. Eve had stopped on her way to the party store to greet them as they stood in their driveway watching the movers unload their furniture. Holly had listened to Eve’s request, but it had been Mark who’d reached out to accept the basket of incandescent light bulbs. Sure, he’d said. No problem.

What would she have done, otherwise? Tyler would never have been able to walk out his front door, let alone go into his own backyard. She’d called David to share the news and gotten his voicemail. Guess what, she’d said, leaving her message, not knowing when he’d pick it up.

Tyler seems to be having a good time. He’s jumping on the trampoline with his friends, the fabric sagging alarmingly low, burdened as it is by the weight of five adolescent boys. They’ve rigged the sprinkler to rotate beneath them, and they’re howling with laughter as the water sprays back and forth. Eve had offered to rent out a movie theater, or drive everyone to a nearby cave to spelunk, but Tyler had shaken his head at every suggestion. Nothing, he’d told her. I don’t want anything.

He’s growing up, David said when she worried Tyler might be depressed. It would be reassuring if that was true, but what if it wasn’t? Tyler hadn’t liked the therapist she’d found. I’ll find someone else, she’d offered, but Tyler had scowled. Just stop, Mom, he’d said, and so she has.

But she and the other XP moms talk. Fourteen’s a dangerous age, old enough to understand, but too young to accept. Fourteen-year-olds chafe against restrictions, defy the rules that have kept them safe. She’s heard about the terrible battles the other mothers have waged. Doesn’t he know that he has to wear his sunglasses? I caught her sneaking outside! She’s listened and commiserated. Tyler’s already started to take risks. He won’t wear his mask when she takes him to his medical appointments. He hates it, keeps it on the shelf of his closet. It’s not like she can force him to put it on. The other mothers listen, murmur reassurances. Even the best kids rebel.

She brings out the cake, candles flickering in the darkness, and they sing happy birthday. She sees her husband’s features reflected in their candlelit son, the fullness of his lower lip, the roundness of his eyes. Tyler makes a wish and blows. Charlotte glances at her and immediately picks up the knife and begins serving cake, so that Eve can step back into the shadows and compose herself.

Fourteen birthdays so far. She remembers them all: His fourth, when all the kids ran around barking, wearing floppy Dalmatian ears she’d hot-glued out of black and white felt, and ate birthday cake baked in a big steel bowl like dog food. His fifth, where they fished for prizes with magnets tied to strings. His seventh, when they wore cowboy hats and roasted hot dogs over a bonfire. His ninth, when she wrote HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! in phosphorescent chalk on the sidewalk all the way down to the park where his friends waited to jump out and surprise him. His eleventh, when she converted the backyard into a moonscape, and everyone ate astronaut ice cream and flung glow-in-the-dark Frisbees that trailed white blurs of false light.

They’d all been wonderful, in that imperfect way birthdays are, but the best had been his very first, before they knew. She’d set up a wading pool and Tyler had splashed in and out all afternoon, clapping his hands, his dimpled knees churning. Her parents and David’s father had been there, laden down with presents, so many that she had to set a few aside to open later. Three-year-old Melissa had run around singing her favorite Barney song and fallen asleep in David’s lap. It had been the happiest birthday by far. There would never be another like it.

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The Deepest Secret: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
Wow! The Deepest Secret was true to its name in so many ways! Everyone has a secret and family members are protecting one another. This is my first book by Carla and was blown away! I had a 12 hr drive ahead of me, and the audio kept me engaged for the duration of my long road trip from NC to South Florida. Without giving away the details – the novel was brilliantly written, emotional and suspenseful from beginning to end. There was so much going on with each of the characters, drawing you in to uncover each of their secrets. Reminds me of Wisteria Lane, (Desperate Housewives), as you never know what goes on behind closed doors. The family dynamics were at an all- time high in this neighborhood! I especially loved the character, Tyler and his daily struggle with the rare condition of XP and UV rays, living in darkness. In addition, his mom, Eve was a strong woman, making it her life’s mission and obsession to protect her son at all costs. The Deepest Secret is about love and forgiveness and family. You cannot even put yourself in this family’s position, until you live their life. A page turner, this novel would be ideal for book clubs and further discussions from different viewpoints of the characters. I have read all of Jodi Picoult’s books and a huge fan, and yes, if you love her work, you will love this compelling – “The Deepest Secret” (movie worthy)! I look forward to reading more from this talented author!
slvie More than 1 year ago
We all have secrets of one kind or another. Big ones, little ones. A thirteen year old boy has a disease called XP. This means that UV rays will kill him. He has to stay out of sunlight or other UV light sources. His mom protects him as much as she can. A hit and run accident in the neighborhood has everyone suspecting everyone else. All of the neighbors have their own secrets that they want kept secrets. This story is so engrossing you cannot put it down once you start it. The characters are very well developed and the story line flows along with lots of tension and suspense. Human emotions at their peak. The story is sad, but it really is all a part of life. Everything is resolved or on the way to being resolved at the end, so you are not left hanging. I will be following this author in the future. I received this through Goodreads First Reads giveaways for an honest review. Highly recommend!
TheLadiesLounge More than 1 year ago
The summary really interested me: the whole idea that every family has secrets. Within the first few pages, I was instantly drawn into Tyler and his medical situation called XP (which is a true condition) where he has to avoid UV light or suffer terrible consequences. Then a few more pages in and something terrible happens which really grabbed my attention and I fell in from there. The book changes points of view and you end up really liking every character. I kept reading because I wanted to know if the secret ends up coming out. I will not say the ending but will say that I was satisfied with the ending. This is an easy read that makes you want to finish the book. 
Zadunajsky More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It kept me reading to find out if Eve was going to tell the truth or hide the secret forever. I would agree with the character Charlotte, I would most likely do the same if it were my child. I recommend this book to everyone who likes a good mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is a secret ever worth keeping and if so,how long and at what cost is a person willing to keep it. This is a strong emotionally charged story with unforgettable characters. A fantastic and thought provoking book.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
Let me begin with, wow! The Deepest Secret is one of those books you almost can't put down. It starts with just daily life, an odd daily life the Lattimore family has in order to keep their son Tyler safe. I was instantly drawn to Eve, as a mother doing everything in her power to protect her son and at the same time to normalize his life as best she can. I could immediately understand her and felt for her, she is on alert until the sun goes down and even then she can't just relax. When young neighbor girl Amy goes missing the entire neighborhood begins to unravel. What happened to her? Everyone becomes suspect. And Tyler is prowling around the neighborhood, looking around when nobody is suspecting they are being watched. Tyler begins putting pieces together. Is Tyler able to figure out The Deepest Secrets of those around him? Again, I could hardly put The Deepest Secret down. Very well written. I found both Eve and Tyler compelling and wanted to know how their stories were going to play out. Not only do we see a neighborhood falling apart, we also watch what happens when the already stressed Lattimore family responds to the events of that tragic night. The novel is told from multiple viewpoints of Eve and Tyler and a few chapters of Eve's husband. Even though their family is dealing with Tyler's awful disease I found I could easily relate to the family. I could just go on and on about how riveting and compeling The Deepest Secret is! I am highly highly recommending!
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
This was a curious story. The inclusion of a rare chromosomal condition like XP, which results in a boy that lives in the dark of night, voyeuristically exploring his neighbor's lives, gives the story an offbeat feel. It reminded me a little of the movie Powder, and came off feeling part Powder, and part Gone Girl. There is a feeling that this family is living in a separate world. The book focuses around their neighborhood cul-de-sac, and the families that live there. You get glimpses into the lives of these people, through the eyes of Tyler during his nightly outings. The cul-de-sac lends a sense of isolation and a feeling that they are alone in this. About three-quarters in I was dreading the end of the story, and yet compelled to keep going. I couldn't see any way to have a satisfactory ending to the story. It was going to leave me miserable and unhappy any way it played out, from what I could figure. But I was driven to see whether the author could find a way to leave me happy when it was all over. In the end, the story didn't leave me miserable at all, but I was left with the nagging feeling that it was a little bit of a cop out (sort of like the feeling you get when outrageous things happen in a series, and at the end you find out it was all just a dream and didn't really happen. That's sort of the feeling I had at the end of this story. But just a touch of it.). The story was believable, and didn't destroy all hope and leave me heavy and depressed and wondering why I just allowed myself to become emotionally invested in these characters for that. Although the final 10 pages or so fell slightly flat for me, the author did indeed find a way to end the story satisfactorily, and I loved this book overall. This one is bound to be a favorite of 2014 for me!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings What would you do in order to save your family from harm?  Eve is a mother of two and one of her children has been living with a life threatening condition and she has spent the last few years taking care of her son and trying to keep the rest of the family together.  A tragedy happens and she must make a big decision. Thankfully the tragedy that occurs isn't spoiled in the synopsis and I can't spoil it here either!  I can say that it involves the neighborhood and I thought this was in interesting twist by adding in neighbors as bigger characters mixed in with the family drama aspect.  The other part that kept me reading was the disease that Eve's son Tyler lives with - his inability to be near UV rays and sunlight.  This book made me thing about the extreme of this disease and what those have to suffer through.
tommygrrl723 More than 1 year ago
I thought that the plot started off very well, and then drug after the first third of the book. The characters were well developed but extremely unlikable and at times down-right depressing, making the book very difficult to get through. The plot does raise the questions: "what are people capable of doing?", "what goes on behind closed doors?" and "what are people thinking?", but I'm sure there are other books written by other authors that help peer into the dark underbelly of the suburbs, or into disordered family dynamics that are written in such a way as to make the characters likable, and the plot more interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seems some childish individuals find their ramblings interesting...foolish and immature, this 4th rate monkey business. This area is for the book review for other's information.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual one of her best!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is sad but very good. What a mom would do to protect her Son who has a rare sickness. A Husband and wife who lose their relationship in the middle of this. I believe they realize they do loved each other at the end but was it too late for them ?. The end will make you think.
Twink More than 1 year ago
3.5/5 Carla Buckley is a new to me author. The Deepest Secret is her third novel. A rainy night...a deserted road....a quick flash of something in the headlights....a distracted driver....and lives are changed forever. From the beginning we know that Eve has struck her best friend's daughter Amy - and that she chooses to not report it. Why? Her son. Tyler has a rare disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum. His life is a tightly controlled orchestration of avoiding UV rays from not just the sun, but from headlights, light bulbs and more. And Eve is the conductor. "What will happen to Tyler?" And so, she makes the fateful decision to drive away. Buckley has come up with an excellent premise. How far would you go to protect the ones you love? At what cost? Could you live with yourself? The mystery takes a backseat to Buckley's deft exploration of family dynamics and relationships of all types. Three main characters are given a voice and a narrative. There are many secrets - both within Eve's family and in every house on their quiet cul-de-sac. Each character is somewhat flawed - or perhaps I should say they are just realistically portrayed. The one character I was drawn to was Tyler. He too makes errors in judgment, but a lot of that comes down to Eve. I was torn on how I felt about her, but ultimately landed on the other side of the fence. I applauded her love for her son, but deplored her actions, duplicity and machinations. The neighbours' secrets begin to be exposed through Tyler's nighttime ramblings with his camera. Some of them seem a bit contrived and only there to help muddy the waters. The small glimpses of their lives are never really fully explored. And I wanted to know more. There is one scene where the entire street starts slinging insults that I thought was well done. I felt slightly cheated by the resolution of The Deepest Secret - it seemed to wrap up quickly after 400 pages getting there. The neighbourhood's loose ends are also tied up in quick fashion. The Deepest Secret would be a good choice for book clubs - there's lots of discussion material within the story. The publisher has suggested that fans of Jodi Picoult would enjoy this latest book by Carla Buckley. I think that's a good recommendation
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anonomas More than 1 year ago
Wow! Just wow!
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
How far would you go to save your children? For many parents, you don’t even see a line. In your mind, it doesn’t exist. You’d do whatever it takes. Special film for windows, creams, ointments, face masks, friend screening, and neighbor counseling sessions are only the tip of the iceberg. You’d probably shoot out halogen lights with a shotgun from your front porch with a bottle of Jack standing ready by your side. You’d wheedle and cajole and squeeze out one more day, one more month, or one more year for your son or daughter, even if it meant another child or two ended up with the short straw out of the haystack. Even though the prose poked me in the nose, and the poignant conversations left me feeling complete and fulfilled, I hated every last one of the bastards in THE DEEPEST SECRET. From Eve to Tyler to Melissa to David to Charlotte to Holly, I could have punched them individually or as a group, and that still might not have been enough. I’d hoped for a sympathetic character, and instead, I had a slew of misfits and miscreants who might have been better served on The Jerry Springer Show. It was hard to dig myself out of the funk of despair that permeated throughout the pages, with lies and isolation and deception rising up from the blackness and wrapping around my neck. There’s talent at work here—I have no doubt—but I need a character that I can stand behind without worrying about taking an elbow to the chin. On a totally unrelated note, I’d have to say the following was my favorite line of the entire novel: “The Steelers rolled over the Eagles.” Had this been discussed in a bit more detail, I might have found myself rising up out of the muck, even if it was only briefly. I received this ARC for free at Bouchercon. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ermergawsh!! That sounds beautiful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lil                              yup... you do realize that it is spelt damn  not danm right? you always spell it wrong xD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lil                                                                    im not stupid.....maybe, im just a heartbreaker xD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lil                                                                          * shugs* Iknow, im stupid, i couldnt stay with luke either way though, I never se him without being on at home, which i will never be...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lil                                                                                xD ikr!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOL                                                                       good movie, stupid girl.........O.O that moment when you realize you go by LOL and you have a friend named Kyle O.O 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lilll                                                * walks in*