Imagine you're 38 and you're going to meet your 35-year-old sister for the first time. She lives half an hour away, but you've never seen her. You wouldn't even recognize the sound of her voice and you don't know the color of her eyes. You've been sober for five months after 20 years of drinking. You have no idea that meeting your sister and learning to live without alcohol are vitally intertwined.
"Secret Girl: A Memoir" (St. Martin's Press; $22.95), by Molly Bruce (Brucie) Jacobs, tells the story of the author and her sister Anne's separated yet interwoven paths through life prior to, and after, their first meeting, and of the influence Anne has in Brucie's becoming an independent person and accepting herself. At the heart of the story lies a family secret that, when unveiled, opens a floodgate of emotions.
For this privileged Baltimore family, a retarded child was only a source of shame — bringing Anne in would have disrupted a lifestyle that was built on civilized discretion. Brucie's lifelong conflict between her parents' gilded world and her suppressed inner world creates the dramatic backdrop for this riveting memoir.
"Secret Girl" goes beyond the story of simply one family; it sheds light upon the struggle for human connection that we all share, and upon the need to accept one's limitations, as well as to learn forgiveness.