For 40 days, I am choosing a book from my personal book shelves. It will be a book that is insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women. I will write why I think this book is a positive one and worth a read. This isn’t advertising for me or to promote any of my friends. It’s simply praise for good books.
Day 19, Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany
Cadence drinks. She drinks too much, and once she drank at a mommy meeting and then blew through a stop sign in her own neighborhood, while her young son Charley slept peacefully in the back seat of the car. This scared her, but not enough, apparently, because on another day, Candace drinks so much, she can’t get off the sofa to answer the door when her ex-husband comes by. When she finally rouses from her alcohol haze, Charley is gone. His father packed up Charley’s belongings and took him away from Cadence for the child’s own protection. Cadence’s secret is a secret no more.
This story is written from Cadence’s point of view, and she makes it clear that she never wanted to be this person who drinks to the point where her life is no longer within her control. Only a few years ago, she had a marriage and a career as a journalist and was a responsible, sober parent. She had a beautiful baby she loved very much. Then her marriage broke up and though she still loved her baby very much, she now had money worries, and trouble getting to sleep. She found it helped to have a glass of wine before bedtime. To help her sleep. Then two glasses, and then one during the day…. There’s a moment in the story when Cadence sees a doctor and tries to explain her progression from a glass of wine to help her sleep to someone who would get so drunk, she passes out in front of her own child. She can’t pinpoint the moment when her desire for a drink became a need. She can’t say for sure when she became hooked and out of control—became a drunk, an addict, an alcoholic—but she can say for sure she never wanted to be a mother who lost her child because she drank too much. Reading Cadence’s story, I believe her. I also believe that the only thing harder than not drinking, for Cadence, is to continue to exist without her son. This story is about Cadence’s struggle to regain what she has lost.
Why is Best Kept Secret a good read for women? The path to sobriety is not a pretty one, but this is a heartfelt and artfully written story about a person with a problem. Alcoholism and drug addiction are not strangers who live on some foreign street. Cadence feels like a real person and her situation, though extreme, didn’t start out as extreme. She didn’t become an alcoholic in a day, and she didn’t recover in a day, but she never stopped loving her son and she never stopped being a valuable person. The book’s success is in convincing the reader—and Cadence herself—of both of those.