Fifteen year old Charlotte is in a coma, the legacy of having been hit by a bus, Sue her mother is at her bedside desperate to find the key to bring her round and she is sure that the key is that fateful sentence that she has read in Charlotte’s diary; ‘keeping this secret is killing me.’ The book is about Sue’s search for the elusive secret and this quickly overshadows the day to day worry of her daughter’s condition. An oddity of this book is that we learn very little about Charlotte as a person although we learn through her mother’s investigation, about some of the things she’s done, nothing that gives the essence of Charlotte.
The book is narrated by Sue with excerpts from her diary written in the early 1990’s when she met James, a man who was to change her life. Through the diary entries we learn more about Sue which allows the reader to forgive her clumsy attempts at detective work. Sue is nothing if not direct, she frightens Charlotte’s friend Ella, she accuses her husband, she points the finger at the school and as the reader we watch her anxiety levels rise as she struggles to convince everyone that she is coping.
I really enjoyed the diary sections; the descriptions of Sue’s relationship with James was so authentic it gave me goosebumps on occasions as the young Sue struggled to understand her own feelings and those of the charismatic James. Likewise Sue’s relationship with Brian, her husband was a good portrayal of a couple pulling in different directions wanting to believe their own truths and not able to confront a future without their beautiful daughter.
What stopped this being a five star read? Not a great deal, but some of the past events were inaccurate with one event in particular (which I can’t share for fear of spoiling a part of the story) couldn’t have happened as described in the 90’s. I also found myself wondering at some of Sue’s decisions, there were times when I needed to remind myself that this is a story and the character could behave as she wished and although it didn’t break my connection with the story it did stretch it a little.
I enjoyed this well-paced psychological thriller which was backed up by engaging writing. I’m a big fan of books that are centred on secrets and the ones in The Accident had woven themselves into the fabric of this family. The way C.L. Taylor reveals them is perfect as they reluctantly bought into the open and examined. Even better this book is backed up by the perfect twist at the end, something I hadn’t predicted but made perfect sense along with a small action that linked the beginning and the end!