Carly Chambers has a secret--one she's been carefully guarding all her life. With her family constantly on the move and her father's harsh rules keeping her close to home, it had been an easy secret to keep. Until now. This summer in Oceanside, a beach town on the Jersey coast, everything is unraveling.
“...quite involving...solid, well-paced tale...” School Library Journal
“...a hard-hitting, realistic story...” Midwest Book Review
“A tale that will hold readers until the end.” Booklist
“…poignant and tender coming-of age novel…The setting of the novel is beautifully portrayed…The suspenseful plot quietly builds, allowing the author time to finely articulate the development of each character. Fans of Cynthia Voigt’s coming-of-age stories will enjoy this fine addition to the genre.” VOYA
The Secret Within
Nominated for The Mark Twain Award, The Rhode Island Teen Book Award, and The Georgia Book Award
"You must have had a horrible life!" A lot of readers of The Secret Within have said this to me. I am happy to tell them that they are mistaken. Carly's life is not mine. She is a fictional character, completely the product of my imagination. Carly's character grew out of a story that I told to my children one day when we were on a long car trip. My children were small then and the story, of course, was quite different from that of The Secret Within. But the main character in that little story was a girl who had been kidnapped when she was a baby. Her "parents" kept her close to home and they moved a lot to avoid getting caught. After the car trip was over, I was still thinking about this girl and wondering what it must have felt like to have lived the way she had. Before I write, I first try to get a sense of a character. I spend several weeks or months carrying this character around in my head and I think about her at least once a day. This is what I did with Carly. When I finally sat down at my computer to write The Secret Within, I felt like I knew Carly very well. I put her in the old Victorian house by the beach with Vinnie and Leila and the story unfolded from there.
I had an enormous amount of fun with the setting of this book. I love the Jersey shore and have spent quite a lot of time in Wildwood, Ocean City, Long Beach Island, and Sea Isle. I took a little bit from each of these towns to create the fictional Oceanside. I gave to Carly my love of the Jersey shore. Like her, I have sat in a lifeguard stand on the night beach, walked beneath the boardwalk while a roller coaster rumbled above, and stood at the ocean's edge listening to the boom of waves on the shore. How wonderful it was on a dreary or bitterly cold day to sit at my computer and, while writing, to immerse myself in the sights and sounds of a summer day at the shore. I was very pleased when a reviewer for VOYA wrote of The Secret Within, "while reading, one can almost smell the salt air." I hope you can smell it too.
There are a lot of secrets in The Secret Within. The big one, of course, is what is going on inside Carly's home. Eddie, Aileen, Vinnie, and Leila, however, also have their own secrets to keep. In addition to the secret within her family, Carly holds a secret within herself -- that she has the strength to finally stand up to her father and to face her own fears.
It's a long one. If you have checked out About The Author, you know that I come from a big family. Writing about Carly's situation made me thankful once again for my great family. So this book was dedicated to my five brothers and sisters, their wives and husbands, my own husband and children, and to my parents. Some of my family read the manuscripts for my books before I submit them to my publisher. My father read the manuscript for The Secret Within. After finishing the last page, he called me on the phone. "Do you think," he asked, "that you could put something somewhere in the front of the book to let people know that you weren't writing about your own life?" Vinnie is such a bad person that my father didn't want anyone thinking that I had based his character on my own father. Nothing could be further from the truth. My father was a great dad, so I was happy to state in the dedication that he and my mom bear no resemblance whatsoever to the characters of Vinnie and Leila.