This book broke me. A heartbreaking, compelling, intense story – The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman is my book of the year so far.
When a gunshot rings out during morning rush-hour at a busy London café, the lives of a group of strangers will never be the same again. But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye.
And as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?
A must-read, but an emotional ride
The first thing I did when finishing this, was put Norman’s other books straight on my TBR list. No one can read such beautiful, humane writing and not need more instantly.
The concept – three hostages, one café and a man on the brink – is the most basic form. But it’s not as simple as this and is something that will remain in my mind for a while.
It’s intense, fast-paced and impossible to put down. I got so heavily attached to the main characters, feeling every sharp stab of remembrance and every swing of the gun as if I were a fly on the wall.
A shocking ending and with several moments to make your jaw drop to the ground, it’s incredibly well written, exploring mental health and abuse/ violence. I got so emotionally attached that I was genuinely weeping by the end; you’re kept on the edge of your seat the whole time and understand the true meaning of ‘the secrets of strangers’.
Chapters have dual-character narratives, helping the story to flow but keep you waiting with bated breath to find out what’s happening. There’s lots of flicking back to the past to establish how the characters have got where they are today, and it flows very well.
Norman really brought these characters to life, combining unlikely characters in an unusual setting and breaking down barriers with true-life, horrific incidences. A must-read, but an emotional ride.
A high 5/5 stars. If you liked Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton, it’s in a similar vein, so you might enjoy this.
The Secrets of Strangers, Charity Norman, RRP £8.99 (paperback); Book Depository
Publisher: Allen & Unwin