“Don’t Tell Anyone”, by Laurie Boris is a riveting novel that takes on some very tough subjects: breast cancer and assisted suicide. Boris manages this adeptly in a story that is poignant and lingers with the reader long after the final page.
Estelle watched both her grandmother and mother waste away day by day in the slow, hideous death march of breast cancer. When she finds a lump in her own breast she keeps it secret from her family so she won’t be a burden and does not seek treatment. When her family, sons Charlie and Adam and Adam’s wife Liza, inadvertently discover her diagnosis they are shocked. They desperately try to get Estelle to seek treatment since breast cancer is now highly treatable but she adamantly refuses.
As her illness progresses Estelle is forced to live with Adam and Liza so that she can be cared for. She’s never particularly cared for Liza, who she considers a hippie-type but as they spend more time together the two form a fragile bond. Estelle then asks Liza to help her end her life with dignity. As Liza struggles with the ramifications of this request, the whole family struggles as they untangle the secrets and lies that lurked beneath the surface of all their lives.
Boris did a fantastic job tackling these tough subjects with tenderness, some humor and believable characters. The characters are all well-developed so that you can see each one’s side in the situation and how they came to their beliefs. Liza is very real and likeable. I felt for her, being thrust into the role of caretaker of a woman who didn’t treat her all that well. The writing flowed and was well paced.
If you are looking for an emotional family drama with depth I highly recommend this book.