Author's message: Don't fear the truth
Jane Isay, author of "Walking on Eggshells," is an accomplished writer and editor. She also lived with a huge secret for a large part of her adult life: Her husband and the father of her children is gay. This led her to become a secret keeper because she and her husband decided to stay together for the children. Spurred on by this experience, Isay interviewed dozens of people with secrets in their lives to create the book, "Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our Lives."
In the beginning, Isay reveals her own story and how she wound up marrying the second man, Dick, she fell in love with instead of the first, Jonathan. She married Dick, the one her parents approved of because of his outward appearances. Dick was not a bad person, and he and Isay were actually great friends in the end of the marriage, in spite of not being intimate for years. She states, "Dick endured more than 40 years of hiding his true self from the people he loved. It diminished his sense of self-worth, to the detriment of his relationships. He had to be different people in different places." She goes on to say that while getting divorced, Dick went to the doctor and his blood pressure was lower, and his pulse no longer raced. "His body relaxed at the prospect of his new life, even before his mind did."
After her own story about her first and second husbands, Isay shares the stories of others who have kept secrets, had secrets kept from them or figured out family members' secrets. Some of these stories are powerful and page-turning; others are mundane — possibly because the stories become repetitive.
Someone was wronged. He or she discovered the truth. The truth either made the person feel better or worse for the rest of his or her life. Isay chose to tell the stories in the third person, and the book reads as if she is a storyteller relaying other people's stories. She did not choose to put readers in the story — so there are not elements of fiction included in the chapters, as in a personal essay in "Chicken Soup for the Soul" or in many modern memoirs. In some places in "Secrets and Lies," this style works well. In others, readers may find themselves skimming to get to the next lie.
Secrets in this book include affairs, secret children, lies about adoption, drug and alcohol addiction and more.
One of the best chapters in the book is titled, "Little Detectives," where the author tells the stories of young children who figured out that their parents were living lies and not 100 percent truthful with them.
One of the most poignant stories is Brian's, whose father committed suicide after suffering bouts of depression and having numerous affairs. When the suicide occurred, Brian's mother told him his dad died of pneumonia; but even then, Brian knew that didn't add up. Isay explores how this lie affected Brian and his family relationships his entire life.
In the end of the book, Isay reveals more about her life and second marriage. She also maintains her opinion, "I don't mean to say that everybody should tell everyone every secret. But I think that facing the truth is not as bad as some people fear."
She pleads with readers not to fear the truth, no matter how much it might hurt. "Healing comes in the morning," she writes. "And life has a way of going on."
Margo L. Dill is celebrating the release of her second novel, "Caught Between Two Curses" a young adult novel exploring love, family and the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Cubs. She is also the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle-grade historical fiction novel. She lives in St. Louis with her family.