The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon

Title:  The Language of Secrets
Author:  Dianne Dixon
Release date:  March 23, 2010
Publisher:  Doubleday
Pages:  272
Genre:  Adult fiction
Source:  Publisher

Justin Fischer hasn’t seen or spoken to his family in more than ten years, so when he moves back to California from London, he knows it’s time he finally reconnected with them.  When he goes to his old childhood home, he learns that his parents are dead, and upon visiting their graves, he finds next to theirs a headstone with his own name on it.  As Justin has very few memories from the first eighteen years of his life, he sets out to uncover the mystery of his life – what really happened to him as a child, and who is he really?

The Language of Secrets has a lot going on, and it absolutely kept me on my toes.  I couldn’t put the book down as I raced through it, waiting not so patiently to find out how exactly Justin’s story would play out.  The novel is very plot-heavy, and as such it’s difficult to discuss much about it because I’d rather not give away any spoilers.  Suffice it to say that the plot is engaging, interesting, and with plenty of twists and turns to hold just about any reader’s interest.

The point of view in The Language of Secrets switches back and forth from Justin’s in the present day to his mother’s, a few decades earlier.  For me, this was an extremely effective way for Dixon to tell the story because telling both Justin’s and Caroline’s stories parallel like this gave me answers at just the right pace.  Slowly but surely, the facts of Justin’s life came together, and in a more interesting way than if the book was written from Justin’s perspective alone.

The one weakness I feel needs to be pointed out about this novel is the characters weren’t as strong as I would have liked them to be.  As the book is really plot-driven, weak characterizations aren’t the worst thing ever and certainly didn’t ruin the book for me, but I just think that had Dixon developed her characters more fully the book would have had that extra punch to take it from good to excellent.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of reading The Language of Secrets and if you like a novel that is strong on plot that will keep you guessing, I think you’ll enjoy it too.  There is plenty to discuss here, and for that reason I can see this novel being a great choice for book clubs.


10 thoughts on “The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon”

  1. You’re so right – plot driven novels can carry weak characters, but it’s sure nice when they don’t have to. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

  2. This sounds good. I’m not going to rush out and buy it, but it still sounds good. I haven’t read many novels around this theme.

  3. Hi Heather,

    I’m glad you liked my review of the road and the themes in it. I’d held off writing the review in full for a few weeks after finishing the book, simply because the book is so powerful and I loved it so much. I really wanted to do justice to the book.

    That, said, the reason I’m commenting on this post is that this sounds like a book I would most definitely like. As I’m just in the process of creating an online bookclub, I think I’ll put it on the list.

  4. Love this book, but have to go over it again. Who is Justin’s father? I did not understand the last chapter.
    Please help!

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