The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to their childhood town of Redbridge, California—a place Chloe never wants to see again.

Tending to their small bookstore while trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Written in a code that Nate and his sisters created as kids, the pages contain long-buried secrets from her and Nate’s past, and clues to why he went back to Redbridge after all these years. As Chloe struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children, their increasingly dangerous games a magical escape from their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from from his oppressive father, and how the thwarted attempt upended their lives forever. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself.

There are so many things about this book that I enjoyed; I loved the puzzle that Chloe had to find; piece by piece; as she sorted through her past. It was very sad, how this family’s life was controlled by the father; there too, I could relate as my own mother was deeply religious and used it in a similar fashion. Based on my own abusive past, I actually found myself questioning the depths of my own mother’s insanity based on some of the story within this book!

In short, it may have been hard to read at times (because I could relate) but at the same time, it is a very well written story that keeps you turning page after page as you breathlessly work your way to finding out the truth, along with Chloe.

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