The Secrets We Carried

The Secrets We Carried

Readers who love Susan Wiggs and Susan Mallery will adore New York Times bestselling author Mary McNear newest novel. A young woman travels home to Butternut Lake, confronting her past and the tragedy she and her friends have silently carried with them for over a decade while also facing an unknown future.Butternut Lake is an idyllic place—but for one woman, her return to...

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Title:The Secrets We Carried
Author:Mary McNear
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Secrets We Carried Reviews

  • Vivian Payton

    Mary McNear’s THE SECRETS WE CARRIED is a novel that deals with loss, love, family, secrets, discoveries and healing. A terrible tragedy occurs many years ago when Quinn LaPointe was a senior in high school, and now she returns to her home and beloved Butternut Lake to face what she should have so long ago. After the accident, she left for college and never looked back. Guilt consumed her all these years, but now it’s time to return and face the darkness. She was a budding journalist who worked

    Mary McNear’s THE SECRETS WE CARRIED is a novel that deals with loss, love, family, secrets, discoveries and healing. A terrible tragedy occurs many years ago when Quinn LaPointe was a senior in high school, and now she returns to her home and beloved Butternut Lake to face what she should have so long ago. After the accident, she left for college and never looked back. Guilt consumed her all these years, but now it’s time to return and face the darkness. She was a budding journalist who worked for her high school newspaper and now, ten years later, she’s an accomplished writer. Writing all the memories she has of that tragic night helps her heal, and McNear alternates between the past and the present.

    Quinn is determined to seek out old relationships to begin the healing process. One of those relationships is her very best friend, Gabriel, who means more to her now than she could have possibly known back then. However, Gabriel isn’t as receptive to her as she thought he would be which hurts her to the core. “Since she returned to Butternut she’d foster a belief that seeing Gabriel was important to understanding her past.” More key characters are Jake Lightman, her late high school boyfriend, his brother, Tanner, and Annika Bergstrom, an old classmate who disliked Quinn. Quinn soon learns that all these characters are consumed with the same guilt she harbors, and once she begins to write her memories, her journey from the past helps to unfold secrets, new discoveries and new love.

    I won this book from Goodreads, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was fast-reading and held my interest. The ending was tied up very nicely, and I was happy with the way it was done. What resonates with me is being able to go back to your roots, your childhood home and the memories held there, which I recently did. The new owners of my childhood home invited me into their home, and it helped me in so many ways. This is why I liked this book so much. I also decided to pass it on to another reader who said it was on her TBR list. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Mary McNear and thank you to Goodreads!

  • DJ Sakata

    Favorite Quotes:

    Northern Superior High School had been built in 1930, when Americans still had a reverence for public education, and the two-story brick building, with a white stone arch over the entranceway and two white stone columns flanking it, spoke to the seriousness of the work to be done inside.

    Her closest girlfriend, Katrina, referred to these relationships as Quinn’s “eleventh-month specials.” This wasn’t intentional on Quinn’s part. It wasn’t as if she kept an eye on the calendar as

    Favorite Quotes:

    Northern Superior High School had been built in 1930, when Americans still had a reverence for public education, and the two-story brick building, with a white stone arch over the entranceway and two white stone columns flanking it, spoke to the seriousness of the work to be done inside.

    Her closest girlfriend, Katrina, referred to these relationships as Quinn’s “eleventh-month specials.” This wasn’t intentional on Quinn’s part. It wasn’t as if she kept an eye on the calendar as the anniversary of their first date approached. It was more like an inner mechanism of hers sensed a shifting of the light, a changing of the seasons. Either way, she was apt to end things before the earth had made a full rotation around the sun.

    My Review:

    This is one of those books that is hard to put down as I sense something important to the plot is coming that I really need to know and it is right around the corner, and it was true, but there are several more somethings, and then a few more I wasn’t expecting. I went at this book like an alcoholic on a binge as I couldn’t find a stopping place, nor would I have been willing to stop had I found one. Ms. McNear’s compelling characters and insightful and emotive writing held me in place and while it wasn’t a thriller or a suspenseful read, my curiosity was tripped while my heart was being mercilessly squeezed. This was the second well-textured and maddeningly paced book of Ms. McNear’s that I have devoured - and in much the same manner. I am greedy for all her words as this talented scribe has strong word voodoo.

  • Sara Strand

    This book is being marketed towards people who like Susan Wiggs and Susan Mallery and I have to agree, if you are a fan of either of those authors you will like this book. It's the same writing style and it gives you the same feel as you read it. It also should be noted that this book is sixth in the Butternut Lake series but it is a stand alone book. I haven't read the others in the series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading them, but now I'm interested in picking the o

    This book is being marketed towards people who like Susan Wiggs and Susan Mallery and I have to agree, if you are a fan of either of those authors you will like this book. It's the same writing style and it gives you the same feel as you read it. It also should be noted that this book is sixth in the Butternut Lake series but it is a stand alone book. I haven't read the others in the series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading them, but now I'm interested in picking the others up because I really liked this book.

    The book follows Quinn and her recovery/grief/reckoning of the deaths of her boyfriend Jake and his friends Griffin and Dom. After the accident and graduation she left town and vowed to not come back. She gets an announcement in the mail of a memorial going up in their honor by someone anonymously so she decides that she needs to put the past behind her. She finds that people that she thought were friends aren't so much anymore and people who should be angry with her aren't and she's surprised at every turn. The entire book is Quinn navigating awkward encounters, stilted conversations avoiding obvious topics, and her trying to work through her guilt of that night because she believes she had a key part in their deaths. She soon discovers that others feel that same guilt and they have all been kind of stuck in that moment.

    Overall? I really liked this book. I'm actually giving it 5 stars because I couldn't put it down, and it felt like the right book to read right now. I'll admit that Quinn is almost a little annoying and it feels like she takes on too much responsibility that I don't think a reasonable person would. It's hard to remember that the accident happened when they were still kids so I guess maybe that guilt would be expected. The best part of this book is that everyone is kind of webbed together and the ending is fantastic. I finished the book with an audible "wow" and immediately texted my friend that they had to read this book. Sometimes books with so many characters and different pieces gets tedious to keep together but the author really did a great job bringing it together to give us a great ending with no loose ends. Absolutely fantastic.

  • Marlene

    Originally published at

    In my reviews of previous books in the Butternut Lake series I have said that Butternut Lake should be renamed “Second Chance Lake” because those stories have featured a second chance at love for the hero, the heroine, or both.

    The Secrets We Carried does not follow the pattern of the previous books, and there’s nothing to keep a reader from starting here and deciding if you like the place and want to go back. I definitely like the place. A lot.

    But this stor

    Originally published at

    In my reviews of previous books in the Butternut Lake series I have said that Butternut Lake should be renamed “Second Chance Lake” because those stories have featured a second chance at love for the hero, the heroine, or both.

    The Secrets We Carried does not follow the pattern of the previous books, and there’s nothing to keep a reader from starting here and deciding if you like the place and want to go back. I definitely like the place. A lot.

    But this story is still about second chances. In the end, there’s even a second chance at love – but that is not the kind of second chance that is the centerpiece of this particular story.

    This one is about a second chance at life. And it’s about finally forgiving yourself so that you have a chance at grabbing that second chance.

    Because that’s what Quinn LaPointe needs to do. And that’s why she’s come back to Butternut Lake, the place she grew up, ten years after the tragic accident that overtook her senior year in high school. A tragic accident that she has never fully dealt with – or completely healed from. An accident that she feels at least partially responsible for.

    But she’s not the only person carrying that particular secret. And she’s not the only person who has not been able to move her life past that terrible fixed point in time.

    In her life post-Butternut Lake, she has kept moving forward, but she hasn’t moved on. An anonymous invitation to the dedication of a memorial to the accident, and the three young men who needlessly, recklessly, stupidly died in it, gives her the chance to take herself back to the place she once called home.

    And gives her the opportunity that she needs. A chance to finally remember, an opportunity to hopefully understand, and above all, both the proximity and the distance that she needs to finally forgive herself.

    Quinn needs to let go of her past, so that she can finally claim her future.

    Escape Rating A: I wasn’t in the mood for a romance, and that turned out to be an excellent thing. In spite of the way that the blurb reads, and contrary to the previous books in this series, The Secrets We Carried is not a romance.

    Instead, this book is more of a character study, crossed with more than a bit of “women’s fiction”. In other words, if a man had written this story, it would just be labeled “fiction”.

    I digress – but mostly because I just finished this book and I’m still reeling a bit. This was absolutely marvelous – especially because it wasn’t what I expected. It went a whole lot deeper than that.

    Quinn’s high school career ended in tragedy. Her boyfriend and his two best friends drowned in Butternut Lake under the stupidest of circumstances. Jake Lightman was drunk and so were his buddies. Jake drove his truck out onto the frozen surface of Butternut Lake one night in the late spring and just sat there, in the truck, until the ice gave way and the three young men drowned.

    Quinn blames herself. She broke up with Jake that night because she caught him lying to her, and not for the first time. She believes that he drank so heavily because of their breakup, and that he was out in the middle of the lake because she told him that’s where she lost the promise ring he gave her.

    So Quinn comes to Butternut Lake for the dedication of the memorial to his death, and the deaths of his friends.

    But Quinn isn’t the only person who has spent the past ten years heaping blame on herself for the events of that long ago night. Or rather, a night that should be long ago but seems to be ever-present as Quinn decides to stay in Butternut Lake and finally process the events of that night by writing all of her memories.

    As part of her “memory writing” she touches base with not just the events but also the people who were part of that time, and who, it turns out, also have not been able to let things go. The deeper Quinn digs, the more she discovers that there is plenty of guilt to go around.

    And like so many burdens, once that guilt is shared, once all of the people who touched and were touched by those events lays out the part that they each feel they played that night, they reach, tentatively and together, for a truth that was hidden by the secrets they all carried. A burden shared is a burden halved. A burden shared by as many people as have a share in this one lightens their load, and their lives, to the point where they can put the past behind them. Forgive themselves but never forget.

    This is a beautiful story where the only way forward is through. Everyone holds back and everyone hides pieces of themselves that have come to hurt to much to be revealed. Quinn’s need to get it all out there, at least in her own mind, conflicts deeply and realistically with her desire to bury it all as deeply as possible.

    The ending, when Quinn finally reaches it, goes all the way back to the beginning. And it sets her free.

  • Fabienne

    The latest book in the Butternut series is a bit darker and edgier than the previous ones. Quinn had left Butternut after high school, not just to go to college, but to escape the memory of a tragedy that had shaken up her little town. Three high-school seniors died in an accident, including her boyfriend with whom she had just broken up. His heavy drinking caused the accident and Quinn cannot escape the guilt that gnaws at her -- would he have been drunk if she had not broken up with him? Now,

    The latest book in the Butternut series is a bit darker and edgier than the previous ones. Quinn had left Butternut after high school, not just to go to college, but to escape the memory of a tragedy that had shaken up her little town. Three high-school seniors died in an accident, including her boyfriend with whom she had just broken up. His heavy drinking caused the accident and Quinn cannot escape the guilt that gnaws at her -- would he have been drunk if she had not broken up with him? Now, years later, she is coming back to Butternut Lake, reconnecting with old friends and confronting that guilt, her own, that of others and much more.

    Like in Moonlight on Butternut Lake, the romance is not necessarily the main attraction of this book, It's well-written, as usual, in a clear and concise style, making it an easy weekend read.

  • Lori Greene

    I loved this. Suspenseful, loving, 2nd chances.

  • Anna

    Following a tragedy that occurred during Quinn LaPoint's senior year of high school, she left for college determined to move on with her life. Yet the past still haunts her, affecting her ability to to develop close relationships. When someone sends her a newspaper clipping of a dedication being erected at the sight the tragedy occurred, Quinn feels it's time to deal with her past. She returns to her home town of beautiful, idyllic Butternut Lake, looking to heal and make amends. Some though do

    Following a tragedy that occurred during Quinn LaPoint's senior year of high school, she left for college determined to move on with her life. Yet the past still haunts her, affecting her ability to to develop close relationships. When someone sends her a newspaper clipping of a dedication being erected at the sight the tragedy occurred, Quinn feels it's time to deal with her past. She returns to her home town of beautiful, idyllic Butternut Lake, looking to heal and make amends. Some though do not welcome Quinn, and her once best friend is distant and aloof. As Quinn journals her past memories and connects with others affected by the loss, she slowly discovers she is not alone in her guilt and pain. Guilt can be a heavy burden to carry, haunting their memories. Together they discover a path that will allow them to embrace the future and forgive each other and themselves.

    Another wonderful installment in the Butternut Lake series, although this could easily be read as a stand alone novel.

    Fans of Susan Wiggs and Debbie Macomber will enjoy this series.

  • Mrs Mommy Booknerd http://mrsmommybooknerd.blogspot.com

    #FirstLine ~ Why am I here?

    I love visiting Butternut Lake. Butternut Lake has such interesting people working through the thing we call life. McNear did such a great job creating a place that now feels familiar to me, as I have read all of the Butternut Lake books that McNear has written. In the newest installment The Secrets We Carried (Butternut Lake, #6) you get to know Quinn while she works through the past and has to figure what the future holds. It is filled with so much love...in various

    #FirstLine ~ Why am I here?

    I love visiting Butternut Lake. Butternut Lake has such interesting people working through the thing we call life. McNear did such a great job creating a place that now feels familiar to me, as I have read all of the Butternut Lake books that McNear has written. In the newest installment The Secrets We Carried (Butternut Lake, #6) you get to know Quinn while she works through the past and has to figure what the future holds. It is filled with so much love...in various forms. Another sweet and deeply moving novel that is perfect for book clubs. 4.5 stars

  • Marcie

    This book should have been titled The Guilt We Carried instead of The Secrets We Carried. The entire book dwells on the how guilt can weigh us down throughout our lives and influence our lives.

    Ten years after her high school graduation, Quinn LaPoint returns to her hometown and Butternut Lake. She needs to come to terms with a tragic accident that killed her teenage boyfriend, as well as two of his best friends. As a working journalist, Quinn plans to write about her high school experiences that

    This book should have been titled The Guilt We Carried instead of The Secrets We Carried. The entire book dwells on the how guilt can weigh us down throughout our lives and influence our lives.

    Ten years after her high school graduation, Quinn LaPoint returns to her hometown and Butternut Lake. She needs to come to terms with a tragic accident that killed her teenage boyfriend, as well as two of his best friends. As a working journalist, Quinn plans to write about her high school experiences that led up to the accident, in hopes that writing will help clarify in her own mind what happened. Quinn thinks she may have caused the accident, and she knows for certain that her actions at the very least contributed to the three deaths. As she researches and writes her own story, she meets other people at Butternut Lake who also have feelings of guilt over those deaths.

    I won this book from LibraryThing, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The book seemed a little slow in the beginning, but then grabbed and held my interest until the last page. I appreciated how the author subtlety showed that guilt affects us long after an event, and how necessary it is to come to terms with mistakes that have been made, learn from those mistakes and finally, to forgive one's self in order to move on.

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