When Cornelia and her husband, Teo, move from the city to the suburbs, she is eager to make friends. Instead, she feels the weight of her neighbor Piper's ruthless judgment. Another woman, Lake, seems to be a promising friend, but her inscrutable behavior and mood changes leave Cornelia confused. But she unwittingly becomes central to both women's lives as Piper cares for her dying friend and Lake's son takes a liking to Cornelia's family.
I was a little hesitant when I started this book, because I just don't have a lot of patience for reading about the gossip and maneuvering of suburban women--yes, that's my world, but I don't find it interesting in my own life, either. And while this book did have some of that, it was presented more as something to overcome on the way to deeper relationships, rather than as a plot driver. I was surprised to find that the cattiest of all of the characters ended up being on of my favorites--but really, all of the characters here were intriguing and at least somewhat likable. The downfall, for me, was in the peak dramatic moments of the story--while I saw the "secret" almost from the beginning, it was the overhyped drama of the reveal that bugged me at the end. Before that, though, de los Santos' thoughtful writing of the characters and their growing relationships kept me reading and would prompt me to try out more of her books.
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From the publisher’s description:
Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others we keep to protect those we love.
A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised no one more than herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to leave urban life behind and head for an idyllic suburb. Though she knows she and her beloved husband, Teo, have made the right move, she approaches her new life with trepidation and struggles to forge friendships in her new home. Cornelia’s mettle is quickly tested by judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt. Perfectly manicured, impeccably dressed, and possessing impossible standards, Piper is the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she would find in suburbia. A saving grace soon appears in the form of Lake. Over a shared love of literature and old movies, Cornelia develops an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman who has also recently arrived in town, ostensibly to send her perceptive and brilliant son, Dev, to a school for the gifted.
Marisa de los Santos’s literary talents shine in the complex interactions she creates between these three women. She deftly explores the life-altering roller coaster of emotions Piper faces as she cares for two households, her own and that of her cancer-stricken best friend, Elizabeth. Skillfully, de los Santos creates an enigmatic and beguiling character in Lake, who draws Cornelia closer even as she harbors a shocking secret. And from the first page until the exhilarating conclusion, de los Santos engages readers with Cornelia, who, while trying to adapt to her new surroundings, must remain true to herself. As their individual stories unfold, the women become entangled in a web of trust, betrayal, love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined, and that ultimately teaches them what it means for one human being to belong to another.