Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Safety of Secrets

Avon 2008
As a young girl growing up in Long Island, I spent hours locked behind my bedroom door sharing secrets with my best friend. As I grew and moved away, the friendship that was once so important grew to be nothing more than a memory; the secrets shared no more than whispers among girls. In her second novel, The Safety of Secrets, Delaune Michel tells the story of two childhood friends who, as an adults in Los Angeles, must recognize that the nature of friendship may change but its inherent nature remains the same.Fiona and Patricia have been friends since their problematic childhood in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Adults (and actresses) the two women lead extremely different lives - Fiona is married and pregnant; Patricia is a television star marrying the male star of the moment. Slowly the women's friendship falls apart - until the dark secret from their youth emerges in a brutally open way.Michel, who comes from a family of writers, tells a beautiful story of women, friendship and the nature of forgiveness. Lyrical and poetic, the story flows seamlessly through the heat of the South and the smog of the West Coast.

The Dancer From Khiva

Black Cat, 2008
As of late I find that I am reading more and more books about the struggle of women in the world. In The Dancer From Khiva (Black Cat, 2008), the reader enters the world of a young Muslim woman who, after a violent attack, leaves her small town for the larger world outside. Written by Bibish, the tale is told in journal form with no censorship; rather, each detail of this woman's difficult (and at time heartbreaking) life are told in unflinching detail and brutal honesty. Poor, yet filled with a sense of hope, Bibish is met with constant trials - many of which are initiated by the men in her life. Ultimately she is ostracized by the family to whom she returns and must make her way in the world on her own.
The seeming simple language belies a strong story of pain, persecution and persistence. Bibish represents the many women who are fighting against the culture in which they were born; the culture from which they can not break free. Winner of the National Bestseller and Book of the Year prizes in Russia, this is a book that all Americans should read - a book that will teach compassion, strength and the undying importance of a belief in one's self.