Just Between Us: A Novel by Rebecca Drake

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Understanding that humans are flawed and often disappointing was something of a birthright for me.

Four women, close friends living lives most people dream of attaining,  are settled and set- surrounded by safe schools, good friends, the ideal neighborhood and maybe just a little hidden violence in their midst. Alison spends a lot of time trying to convince her friends Julie and Sarah that sweet Heather is being abused by her husband. The bruise is the first clue, all the evidence that follows cannot be ignored. Viktor may be a successful surgeon, but everyone knows danger can lurk behind any facade.  Terrified for their friend, Alison knows they have to intervene, confront Heather, the question is how. Alison knows she can’t turn a blind eye and go on as if she’d never seen it, that bruise on her wrist. Julie isn’t so quick to believe Alison, known to be hypersensitive. Viktor has only ever been kind, not a bit arrogant, surely he would never beat his beautiful wife? So she puts it out of her mind, until she sees something suspect occur between the couple. Sarah never thought that the star couple with the most out of all of them could have such a dirty secret. Abuse? Of all people, surely not them! Allison always needs attention, at least in Sarah’s mind, and this could just be another way to be the center of everything, couldn’t it? Or maybe Sarah can admit she just resents Alison for reasons that are unfair, and maybe she really is concerned about Heather. Maybe everything isn’t so wonderful with the couple who have it all.

As the reader delves into each character, it’s obvious there are small jealousies, friendships that sometimes leave one out. Naturally,  there is passing judgement about parenting styles that wound and all the usual suburban drama mothers face, until a crime rocks them out of their safe, routine lives. Just what will the women do to save Heather? How much of their own lives will they risk? With no recourse but to sort through the past, the friends try to untangle the mystery of Heather and Viktor’s marriage, discovering things they hadn’t known.

Is Heather the fragile victim she appears to be? Heather is meant to be grateful, happy. She was a model, and traded everything that encompassed for suburbia, for motherhood, for the ‘perfect’ life. Maybe the transition isn’t so natural, maybe keeping life in order has taken it’s toll. Viktor has his demands, needs order, someone has to keep things running smoothly while he continues re-sculpting the world, beautifying everything ugly. She is ‘lucky’, isn’t she?

Each woman has her own opinion about what’s happening and all of them are pulled into a moment that will change them forever. The truth is slippery, and each person sees what they need to but once we tell ourselves a story, we don’t see what’s real. It’s a story of secrets, lies, and manipulation. You can scratch the surface of every family, every marriage and come away cutting yourself up instead. Just who are the real victims here?

Publication Date: January 9, 2018

St. Martin’s Press

 

 

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