The best recent books on secrecy and denial

Who am I?

I come from worlds that look much like the worlds in these books: raised in poverty, absent father, generational trauma, and mental illness running strong in my genes. I’ve always been interested in the ways our opportunities shape us, and the coping mechanisms we wield—secrecy, denial, anger, violence, even love—as we try to survive. 


I wrote...

The House of Deep Water

By Jeni McFarland,

Book cover of The House of Deep Water

What is my book about?

With two kids in tow, Beth Hanson, a Black divorcee, moves back in with her white father, Earnest, only to find him with a live-in girlfriend, Linda, whom Beth babysat in high school. The move comes right as their neighbor has been arrested for horrific crimes, which Beth was a victim of growing up. Back home, Beth is forced to confront the town’s—and Ernest’s—“benign” racism, and her father’s long denial of the abuse that tainted her childhood.

The books I picked & why

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Lakewood

By Megan Giddings,

Book cover of Lakewood

Why this book?

You want a book on serious gaslighting? Here it is! Lakewood is about a young woman who, amid financial need, signs up to be a lab rat in an experiment. And it gets dark pretty fast. This book will have you wondering what’s happening and where the character is while she navigates this experiment. And, bonus! It’s set in my home state of Michigan!


Hell of a Book

By Jason Mott,

Book cover of Hell of a Book

Why this book?

Mott surely earned his National Book Award for this! It discusses police brutality of Black people with a main character who is incapable of even acknowledging the latest shooting, and brings in questions like what art is, and what’s an artist’s responsibility to weigh in on these national conversations. The writing is stellar, the character is a little wonky in the best possible way, and the book itself is a page-turner. And if you go to my website, I have a link to where I had the honor of interviewing Mott for this book about a month before it won the NBA! Just scroll to the bottom of the first page where it says “Fox Cities Book Festival.”


If You Want to Make God Laugh

By Bianca Marais,

Book cover of If You Want to Make God Laugh

Why this book?

Marais does an excellent job of moving among these three point-of-view characters: a Black woman and two white sisters, all brought together by a child and the question of parentage. At the heart of the story is life in apartheid-era South Africa. A must-read for anyone who loves messy families and complex characters.


Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Book cover of Mexican Gothic

Why this book?

I love a good gothic, and this does not disappoint. A house full of secrets and magic, and a mentally ill family who guards the secrets and magic. I call this a perfect beach read because Moreno-Garcia writes the kind of strong, willful, clever, active heroine we all wish we could see ourselves in a book.


The Mothers

By Brit Bennett,

Book cover of The Mothers

Why this book?

A young couple of star-crossed lovers: the son of the minister, and the daughter of a woman who committed suicide. And at the helm of their relationship is the church community, steering their path. This book brings up a lot of questions of who gets a say, and who is worthy, all brought to you by Bennet’s gorgeous writing.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murders, human subject research, and teenagers?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murders, human subject research, and teenagers.

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Human Subject Research Explore 19 books about human subject research
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Recipes for Love and Murder, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime, and Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance if you like this list.