Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families—the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters—the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle—she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another’s lives.
This book was not what I expected when I picked it up- but in the end the story delivered more than I anticipated. This story, told from the points of view of the two daughters of a man with two families (one open, one secret) was dark and rather heartbreaking. I was appalled by the actions of the adults in this story, especially the father, who had no redeeming qualities that I could see. The life of secret daughter Dana was so sad that I found it hard to relate to Chaurisse when her turn came even though she had no idea how much impact her wants and needs had on the life of her secret sister.
The writing was excellent, and I suppose if the story had a different ending I would likely have gone for five stars, but the epilogue made me sad and cast a pall over the story for me (though other readers may disagree).