I MEANT TO TELL YOU
by Fran Hawthorne
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Pub Date 15 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 04 Nov 2022
When Miranda Isaacs’s fiancé, Russ Steinmann, is being vetted for his dream job in the U.S. attorney’s office, the couple joke about whether Miranda’s parents’ history as antiwar activists in the Sixties might jeopardize Russ’s security clearance. But as it turns out, the real threat emerges after Russ’s future employer discovers that Miranda was arrested for felony kidnapping seven years earlier – an arrest she’d never bothered to tell Russ about. Miranda tries to explain that she was only helping her best friend, Ronit, in the midst of a nasty divorce and custody battle, take her daughter to visit her parents in Israel. Russ doesn’t see it quite as innocently.
In a frantic search to persuade Russ that she’s not a criminal, Miranda either makes the situation worse or exposes other secrets and mysteries. Miranda’s stepfather – who has just revealed to her mother that he’s been having an affair—starts dropping cryptic hints about her biological father. On top of all that, Miranda is arrested again, this time for drunk driving.
With everything she thought she knew upended, Miranda must face the truth about her mother, herself, and her future marriage.
A Note From the Publisher
“Fran Hawthorne delivers a nuanced exploration of the connections among women – and how they can unravel when lies of omission are revealed. Told through the eyes of three women in different eras, I Meant to Tell You kept me turning the pages late into the night.”
—JENNIFER COBURN, USA Today best-selling author of Cradles of the Reich
“Fran Hawthorne has written a wise, kind, and above all compassionate novel about the secrets we keep and the judgments we make . . . . a big-hearted book that is sure to warm yours.”
—YONA ZELDIS MCDONOUGH, Fiction Editor of Lilith magazine
“I Meant to Tell You opens with a white lie, a small dishonesty. But it widens to reveal that the people we think we know may all be hiding behind convenient mistruths. In that way it is a compelling portrait of our times, stuffed with richly drawn characters and alive with sharp and glimmering prose . . . .”
—BRIAN CASTLEBERRY, author of Nine Shiny Objects (long-listed, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction)
Average rating from 7 members
Reading an author for the first time is always a surprise, this one was a good and charming one! Hawthorne has interwoven 2 generations in the same family., and shares their stories and secrets with the reader. The stories are both fascinating and the characters are likable.
Miranda has “forgotten “ to share a story of a long ago misdemeanor with her fiancé. Her reminder comes when he is being vetted by the FBI for a government job. As the story unfolds, she stumbles into keeping more secrets. The reader learns that secrets are in the DNA of her family when her own parental history is unfurled. Her mother, Judith, has kept quite big secrets as well. I loved both stories. Honestly, I related to Judith (my generation) even more than to Miranda. I loved all these family members and I would love to share their stories with my book groups.
I think that most of my readers and friends will enjoy this novel. In reading the acknowledgments, I noticed the name of a friend and colleague who has passed away. I was incredibly touched by the author’s recollection.
Thank you Netgalley for this delightful novel.
I Meant to Tell You by Fran Hawthorne pulled me in from the very start. Compelling story as well as an excellent look at how well we know our friends and family, and ourselves.
There is a lot to enjoy in this book and I think readers will likely emphasize the part that spoke most to them. While for me it was the idea of secrets, or even just not full disclosure. Yet I was invested in the characters, not just Miranda. I liked watching how friendships connect, disconnect, and sometimes reconnect. And I was absolutely interested in how things would resolve.
Back to my main takeaway: secrets. It is often said that if you tell a lie you're usually compelled to tell more to support the first one. It seems to hold true for having a secret exposed, eventually other secrets, or at least moments of uncertainty from those who felt betrayed, seem to follow. I believe in almost total openness in a relationship but also understand that some so-called secrets are omissions without intent to keep a secret. The interesting part is where that line is drawn. Hawthorne makes, for me, that line hard to locate.
I also found the ways in which the characters interacted made me think about how we all sometimes act. Good intentions don't always give good results. We can make mistakes, sometimes legal mistakes, when we feel our lives spiraling out of control. Unthinkingly we can do something that is out of character and we kick ourselves for it. But understanding and condoning are two different things.
I think this would be an ideal book group read because there is plenty of things to talk about and maybe reconsider. I would enjoy hearing from those who took a different path into the book, or who viewed the idea of secrets in a way unlike mine.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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