No one wants to move back home at twenty-six—especially not Charlie Michaelsen, and *especially* not if it means dealing with her overbearing sister, not to mention confronting six years’ worth of unresolved grief over her dad’s death. But when reclaiming her childhood bedroom coincides with reconnecting with her long-lost high-school sweetheart, it feels like a sign. Next door, Wade Hunter has moved home, too. Charlie hasn’t seen her neighbor since he was an awkward tween, still using the shared treehouse that had defined her own childhood. Now he’s back, a nineteen-year-old college student with secrets of his own—and embarrassingly gorgeous to boot. As her ex-boyfriend frustrates her—are they just friends with benefits?—Charlie turns more and more to the kid next door. Along the way their running dates and casual conversations give way to something that feels like anything but “just friends.” Simple lust? That’s the easy answer. But maybe there’s a deeper reason why the only person Charlie can talk to—and be real with—is the teenaged boy next door. WORST-KEPT SECRET is a sexy, poignant tale about love, grief, family, and childhood… and how sometimes going home means growing up. (synopsis courtesy of Amazon)
Living vicariously through Charlie felt like a roller-coaster ride through a myriad of surreal experiences and emotions. You can’t help but feel exactly how she feels, whether you’ve been in her predicament, or not. After living the life of a bona fide adult, she’s forced to go “home” again, a place she’s been running from for most of her adolescent and grown up years. There’s a lot to avoid, and a lot she’s left behind.
When she runs into the first great love of her life, it’s too easy to fall back into the routine of things, to pick up where they’d left off all those years ago. Yet, she can’t help but feel drawn to the man living next door, someone she knows is very unattainable, which only makes her want him more. I really enjoyed the push/pull effect Sienna Cash created between Charlie and Wade, as well as the need for normalcy, which is what Charlie feels she’ll have by getting back with her ex. In a sense, there’s a love triangle, all created within Charlie’s mind, and heart. Should she choose the forbidden fruit, or the familiar?
What I enjoyed most about Worst-Kept Secret, was the acknowledgment that no matter how old we are or how mature we tend to feel we are, there’s still the spirit of youth lurking inside each and every one of us, trying to find its way around in this life. It’s not an easy road, but that’s what makes it interesting. Secret is also a proven testament to how much our families and those we choose to love can shape who we become, for better or for worse, forever.
Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central