Wednesday, July 1, 2020

"Someone Else’s Secret"

Julia Spiro lives year-round on Martha’s Vineyard, where she enjoys fishing, clamming, scalloping, and anything on the beach. She also teaches spin classes in Edgartown and considers spinning her second passion. She previously worked in the film industry and lived in Los Angeles. She graduated from Harvard College.

Spiro applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Someone Else’s Secret, and reported the following:
“If the teenager doesn’t like you, you’re fucked,” Rose warned Lindsey on the phone… “what about the parents? Are they creeps, or do they seem normal?”

Lindsey, one of the two main characters, is on the phone with her best friend, Rose. Lindsey has just moved in with the Decker family on Martha’s Vineyard to be their nanny for the summer. The Deckers have two kids: a five-year-old boy and a fourteen-year-old girl, Georgie, the other main character. Lindsey, having just graduated from college, takes the nanny job in the hopes that Mr. Decker will help secure her an elusive position in the art world at the end of the summer. Here, Rose is reminding her how important it is to win over Georgie, or else Lindsey’s entire summer could be worth nothing. Lindsey also tells Rose a little bit about the family dynamics she’s observed so far.

The Page 69 Test works fantastically well for my book. It pinpoints many of the complicated relationships and perspectives in the story, and it encapsulates the power structures through which Lindsey must navigate. Even though Georgie is a child, she is in a more powerful and privileged position than Lindsey is. Lindsey has to take care of Georgie but also charm her. Throughout the story, it’s clear that both Lindsey and Georgie are envious of one another, but they also need one another. This imperfect, often arduous link between them is the heart of the book.

Lindsey also touches on the bad “vibe” she gets from both the Decker parents here. She assumes that Mrs. Decker doesn’t like her, and she instinctively blames herself and her body, a theme that comes into play again. This page also reveals a moment of fear, as Lindsey hesitates in explaining her discomfort around Mr. Decker. This unease and hesitation speak to a larger, critical idea of the book: the pressure that we often feel to accept things the way they are, to stay silent, and to convince ourselves that everything is fine when we know that it’s really not. The reader might wonder, after finishing the book, how Lindsey’s entire life might have turned out had she had a different conversation with Rose in that moment, one in which she felt like she was able to walk away from a person more powerful than her.
Visit Julia Spiro's website.

--Marshal Zeringue