“Skeletons in the Closet,” “under wraps,” “keeping it on the down low”…we have generated a myriad of ways to denote the importance of keeping secrets. We need our secrets, and we work tirelessly to make sure they remain unknown because their exposure can result in a spectrum of consequences, from the embarrassing to the devastating. In SECRETS THAT FIND US, NbA Muslim author Sahar Abdulaziz has a different take on secrets in a way that poses the question, “What happens when secrets seek you out?”
Young Raven is mourning the recent death of her parents and trying to get her life together when a plethora of twisted secrets and lies unfurl before her horrified eyes in the form of a letter from her dead sister Terry. Terry is in prison for murdering her mother and stepfather, when she decides to take her life. Before she commits suicide, she pens a letter to her younger sister, Raven, and reveals things about which Raven was unaware. Terry’s final words present Raven with a stream of gut-wrenching, mind-blowing revelations, each one more nefarious than the last. Abdulaziz cunningly leaves the reasons for Terry’s suicide and admissions to Raven tortuously vague. Was Terry confessing to purge her soul? Was she trying to redeem herself to those who considered her a monster? Was Terry attempting to protect Raven? The reader must decide while simultaneously watching Terry’s downward spiral in prison as well as Raven’s life unravel in her childhood home.
Abdulaziz seamlessly maneuvers readers between Raven and Terry. Raven is captivated by Terry’s words and is unable to put her late sister’s letter down. At times, Raven forsakes food and sleep to feed her need to know the truth – well, Terry’s truth anyway. I found myself equally incapable of putting the book down. I too was enthralled by Terry’s letter, not only because of the secrets they contained but also due to the accuracy of the way Abdulaziz drafted them. I grew up receiving similar letters from an incarcerated family member. Terry’s mixture of waxing, advice, and ultimate disclosures reminded me of many letters I pulled from my mailbox. Abdulaziz interweaves Terry’s letter with Raven’s reactions to it in a way that dually escalates the urgency of the characters, which ultimately drives each of their imprudent decisions.
Readers of Abdulaziz’s novels can anticipate certain things from the author. Abdulaziz deftly highlights the dysfunctions and evils that adversely affect the lives of the most vulnerable by writing about oft-avoided topics like domestic violence and sexual assault. However, in SECRETS THAT FIND US, the author goes a step further. While domestic violence and sexual assault are present in the book, a range of unaffected characters, who are just as diabolical as Terry despite having “normal” lives, demonstrates the drastic measures to which even people with functional upbringings may engage. There are no perfect victims nor any pristine heroes. By the end of the novel, the reader wonders if even the most “innocent” characters only appear to be so because we just don’t know their secrets. Thus, Abdulaziz uncovers how subtly dysfunction exists in the most healthy lives.Sahar Abdulaziz has one twisted mind, and I love her for it! SECRETS THAT FIND US will bemuse even readers who are adept at detecting plot twists and leave them scratching their heads. SECRETS THAT FIND US is a must-read suspense released just in time for some front porch reading.
Check out the NbA Muslims Authors Speak interview with Sahar Abdulaziz
Learn more about Sahar Abdulaziz:
Abdulaziz uses her writing platform and voice to advocate for the underrepresented, the disenfranchised and/or maligned. Her multidimensional characters have been described as having “substance and soul”. Author of The Broken Half, As One Door Closes, But You LOOK Just Fine, The Dino Flu, as well as the recently published novel,Secrets That Find Us, Abdulaziz again demonstrates that those who have suffered abuse are not victims, but survivors. Represented by Booktrope Publishers