BWW Reviews: DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS by Marla Miller
No, it's not a contemporary political thriller, but at times it feels very, very relevant.
In the spring of 1985, little was known about HIV and AIDS, other than tens of thousands had died from this mysterious, deadly virus.
For those not around at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the level of hysteria, bigotry and fear may seem ridiculous. But for those of us who remember the time so accurately portrayed in Deadly Little Secrets, it was all too real.
Marla Miller's book takes place in a fictional Orange County, California town, but it begins with a debate that took place in big cities, suburbs and rural communities across America: should schools teach accurate information about how to protect against AIDS?
Science was dismissed in favor of bigotry and hysteria: all gay men were assumed to have AIDS, and it was their just punishment for an immoral life. Never mind that everyone was vulnerable, whether through unprotected sex or tainted blood supplies.
In the midst of her campaign to include AIDS education for all students, school nurse Loretta Casterini discovers secrets about her best friend, Dr. Julia Brooks, that shake their relationship.
Over the ten day period recounted in this book, Loretta finds that everyone has secrets. Some are benign, but some are deadly.
As someone who worked and volunteered in the AIDS community at that time (and again now), every word in Miller's book rang true. It took me back to a time that I realized with a heavy heart could easily happen again.
My only criticism is the lead character's name. I recognized it from a movie I love and whenever her full name was mentioned, it took me out of the story. But I don't expect this be a problem for others.
Miller has crafted a real page-turner. I thought I would read this in a leisurely way, but instead I stayed up late, unable to put it away until I knew how it ended. You will, too.