Her drinking snuck up on her - as a way to sleep, to help her relax after a long day, to relieve some of the stress of the painful divorce that left her struggling to make ends meet with her five-year old son, Charlie.
It wasn't always like this. Just a few years ago, Cadence seemed to have it all, a successful husband, an adorable son, and a promising career as a freelance journalist. But with the demise of her marriage, her carefully constructed life begins to spiral out of control. Suddenly she is all alone trying to juggle the demands of work and motherhood.
Logically, Cadence knows that she is drinking too much, and every day begins with renewed promises to herself that she will stop. But within a few hours, driven by something she doesn't understand, she is reaching for the bottle - even when it means not playing with her son because she is too tired, or dropping him off at preschool late, again. And even when one calamitous night it means leaving him alone to pick up more wine at the grocery store. It's only when her ex-husband shows up at her door to take Charlie away that Cadence realizes her best kept secret has been discovered.
Heartbreaking, haunting, and ultimately life-affirming, Best Kept Secret is more than just the story of Cadence; it's a story of how the secrets we hold closest are the ones that can most tear us apart.
I came across this book through my subscription of Bookbub! There was a .99¢ special running for a limited time. Here's a classic example of what I always tell my Intellectual Readers, just because a book is cheap doesn't mean it isn't any good. Also, readers, take note, if you haven't joined Bookbub or ReadCheaply, you're missing out on great deals. You can get books for pennies on the dollar or for free. Something to think about! Here's why you must always take a chance.
Any time you see or hear the word disease, right away you already know it’s not something that any individual would want. Out of all the diseases in the world, there is one that, to me, is the ultimate betrayal of sorts because you don’t know you have it until you do it. What exactly is it, you ask? Alcoholism. Just think about that for a moment. Even if you have parents who drank or any family member who drank excessively, you can never know if you’ll be afflicted with alcoholism until you take that first drink. How horrible is that?! It would seem to me if you know your family has a history of alcoholics, you might not be so quick to take that first drink, but many do and ultimately find their lives spinning way out of control.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly where our main character, Cadence, found herself. Oooh, it started innocently enough. A glass of wine to take the edge off a rather stressful day of dealing with her freelancing job and taking care of her five-year-old son, Charlie. Hell, children alone are enough to drive any mother to drink from time to time, so what could possibly be the harm, right? Dealing with the day-to-day stresses of living will sometimes make an adult reach for a glass of wine or beer or whatever choice of poison at the moment. Millions of people do this. How can it be a problem?
Cadence found that, although she would drink, she couldn’t seem to stop. She thought she was handling herself, but the alcohol was handling her. There’s a huge difference between a person who drinks socially or occasionally and can stop and not need to drink again, than a person who keeps on drinking and never stops. This is what makes an alcoholic. That one innocent drink turned into two for a day. And then two drinks turned into having possibly a third or fourth so she could sleep. Before she knew it, the excuses of why she was drinking no longer mattered. The only thing that was important was heading to her favorite store and perusing the wine aisle to make her selection. Individuals who do not have a drinking problem would never think to do that. But Cadence, like many alcoholics, doesn’t think they have a problem. She believed she could stop anytime, but for some reason, always found herself having another drink. This baffled her and it was a constant battle. Always at war with her guilt and the bottle, and unfortunately, the bottle was winning.
She began having blackouts. She wasn’t taking care of her son the way she should, even putting him in danger by leaving him home alone so she could run to the liquor store to get her wine. Her son had the wherewithal to notice she always had her coffee mug with her and there wasn’t a hint of coffee in that mug. Cadence slurred her words and became edgy and moody when her son would ask or do the slightest thing children his age did. Her ex-husband was too busy working to notice the problems his ex-wife was having. In fact, Cadence’s drinking wasn’t really a problem to her and she was fooling everyone. However, that’s the problem with most alcoholics. They don’t realize that others know they have a problem. They think they’re fooling everyone when the only person that seems to be fooled is themselves. Men, who are fathers, go to work and deal with stress in their day and have a beer or two to relax after a hard day’s work and society doesn’t seem to have an issue with that. But when a woman, who is also a mother, decides to take a drink to take the edge off her day, she’s viewed as irresponsible and loose. Umm, the double standards, as Cadence came to learn.
After Cadence’s life begins spiraling down the drain, it is then her ex-husband finally realizes something is seriously wrong with her. As any responsible parent should do, he took their son from her care, and that’s where this story gets even more interesting. Cadence’s life could be any one of our lives. She is completely real and honest. Her thoughts and feelings are felt as you read her words across the pages. This novel was so raw and moving and you find yourself rooting for Cadence through all she has to endure. Her relationship with her son and ex-husband, to the feelings she has regarding her baby sister and her family is absolutely priceless. As Cadence finds her way back to living, she learns a deep dark secret from her mother that sets the pace for the rest of the story.
Best Kept Secret is an outstanding read. I hated to put this down. I quickly scrolled through the Kindle with ease and I learned a great deal about alcoholism and how an alcoholic mind works. This story was first published back in 2011, but I tell you, when you start to read it, you will find yourself so engrossed in Cadence’s descent into hell, your eyes will soak up her words immediately. This is written in the first-person-point-of-view, which really throws you into Cadence’s thoughts—drunk and sober. The only person Cadence’s secret was kept from was herself! Mello & June give this novel five stars!
Well done and thought provoking. It doesn’t get any more real than this! I hated for the story to end.
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer
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