Winner of The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Books Award and recent Amazon bestseller in dramatic fiction, Don’t Tell Anyone is based on a true incident.
The story begins when, landing in the emergency room nearly unconscious from pneumonia, 65-year-old Estelle Trager is forced to admit that she’s been living with potentially malignant tumors in both breasts…for five years. Now her son Adam and his wife, Liza, know about her secret. Adam is outraged, but Estelle, who watched her mother and grandmother suffer from breast cancer in the days when no one dared speak its name, has no intention of putting her family or herself through the horrors of cancer treatment. Estelle decides there is only one solution: ask Liza, the 33-year-old daughter-in-law she once called a godless hippie raised by wolves, to kill her.
A horrified Liza refuses and keeps the request—among other things—a secret from her husband. But she tells his younger brother, Charlie, a close friend from college with whom she shares her own confidences, despite Adam’s serious case of sibling rivalry. As the three adult children urge Estelle to consider treatment, their complicated weave of family secrets and lies begins to unravel. Can they hold their own lives together long enough to help Estelle with hers?
The idea of personal choice, one of the themes of the book, is fertile ground for discussion. How would you handle a family member’s fight with (or surrender to) cancer? When does an adult child feel he or she can step in and make choices for a parent, if at all? How does a family handle conflict under such immense stress, when members disagree about what is the “right” way to proceed? Is there a place for humor in all this tragedy? When is it appropriate to keep secrets from the people in your life, from your spouse, a sibling, from your children? Many adults face these decisions every day.