"The Secret She Kept" by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Tia Jiles has a dangerous secret.  It is so troubling that she stops herself from getting close to anyone, preferring to dive into her work and keeping her private life extremely private.  But when she meets handsome and successful magazine publisher Lance Kingston, who is head over heels for her, she goes against her better judgment and lets him into her world.

Lance thinks he has won the jackpot when he meets successful lawyer Tia.  He hasn't known her for long but he knows that she is the one and very soon they are married and expecting a child.  But the Tia he loves quickly becomes another person.  The "new" Tia is a raging, violent woman who is a danger to herself and the baby she carries.

When Lance's grandmother tells him "crazy leaves clues," he digs deeper and finds out the secret Tia has been carrying, that since the age of seventeen she has been battling schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Lance knows he's in over his head and when he almost loses his unborn child, he wonders just how much more he can stay committed to the woman he married.

The Secret She Kept, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley, boldly looks at a subject many people tend to ignore or write off.  Even in 2012, mental illness still carries a stigma and many people who suffer from it often hide it because they are scared of what people will think.  I'll admit that I used to be one of those people who thought that mental illness should be kept quiet or was something to be embarrassed by.  Then I experienced anxiety and depression and I understood not only how it takes a hold of you but how we need to release the stigmas that surround it.  This book is going to help others understand why this is so important.

ReShonda is a fantastic writer.  She has taken a delicate subject, put a face and a voice to it and shown the realness of it.  It may be fiction but the characters are believable, relatable and understandable.  I completely understood why Tia wanted to keep it a secret, why Tia's mother thought she could pray it away, and why Lance didn't want to turn his back on his wife no matter how difficult things got.  I admired the way Lance refused to walk away from the marriage when everyone told him he should and when people would have understood why.  This isn't a happy, rosy picture of mental illness or an ideal story.  It chronicles the rough road that everyone faces when dealing with it, not just the person afflicted with it.

I haven't met a book by ReShonda Tate Billingsley that I haven't liked and even though this is a departure from what she usually writes, it is still just as fabulous.  I hope that this book will open up the dialogue about mental illness in circles where it isn't usually discussed.

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