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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 09/2022
  • 9781639884285 B0B34H59Y1
  • 364 pages
  • $9.99
Paperback Details
  • 09/2022
  • 9781639884070
  • 364 pages
  • $19.99
Leslie Kain
Author
Secrets In The Mirror
Leslie Kain, author
Secrets In the Mirror is a literary multigenerational family saga. It is psychological fiction with domestic suspense; although it follows identical mirror twins from age 16 through 27, it is a story for adults, showing the impact of family dysfunction, abuse, crime and mental illness on each generation. Early reviews: •\tSecrets in the Mirror is a compelling story about Narcissistic Personality Disorder mixed with family patterns of abuse and addiction. Gavin, the hero, wants only to save his family, but his identical twin’s increasingly risky behavior and grandiose thinking threaten everyone’s wellbeing and safety. Add in the Mob, and this explosive page-turner will keep you up at night!” -- Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son and The Promise Between Us •\tThe big uncertainty that makes the story compelling is whether Gavin can save himself or will Devon destroy him first? As the story plays out through adulthood, the drama of this question becomes ever more intense. The dénouement is absolutely riveting. -- LA on The Dark Side from the Inside •\tThis story is the ultimate nurture vs nature. … It is riveting storytelling with wonderfully deep characters. – Julee Balko, author of The Things We Keep
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Secrets in the Mirror is a striking narrative of familial dysfunction and mental illness, a finely revamped Cain and Abel story that pits twin against twin. The plot unfolds at a steady and brisk pace and keeps the reader deeply invested in the storytelling from start to finish.

Prose: The author is an excellent literary writer with a knack for developing believable dramatic tension. At times, the prose, particularly dialogue, can seem overly formal and forced. Yet these are mostly isolated instances, and the writing is strong enough to maintain momentum and reader interest.

Originality: Kain richly explores the lasting, multigenerational impact of trauma, while also examining how and why family members pursue decidedly different life paths. 

Character/Execution: Gavin and Devon DiMassi emerge as starkly different characters. Kain creates an impactful depiction of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and its devastating impacts on families and communities.

Date Submitted: July 23, 2022

Reviews
Social worker Kain debuts with a thrilling coming-of-age story that follows mirror twins Gavin and Devon DiMasi as their relationship builds from an innocent, maturing rivalry into a psychological page-turner. Although close when young, as the twins age through college and early careers, Gavin begins to realize he desperately needs distance from Devon, who is unofficially diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) after their 16th birthday – despite Devon’s status as the golden child and the family’s refusal to accept his diagnosis. That doesn’t stop their concern when his behaviors escalate, and they eventually come to the consensus that he is “mentally ill. Sociopathic. There are times he’s even psychopathic.”

Kain carries readers along this intense ride with a piercing narrative that highlights the multi-layered effects of physical and emotional trauma, and the boys’ relationship ultimately morphs into a dangerous and crime-filled reality by the time Gavin leaves his home on the East Coast and heads to Hawaii to start a new marriage and rebuild his life. Gavin’s nightmare gets exponentially worse with time, aided by the twins’ abusive father, and Devon’s life goal appears “like he’s headed over a cliff and trying to take [Gavin] with him.” This is a story that grows darker on every page, as the DiMasis become embroiled in mob turf wars and work to evade the ghosts of their past, and readers will find themselves asking not if, but when, that past will catch up to them – and what part of Gavin’s life Devon will ruin next.

Kain’s passion for mental health advocacy is evident throughout and comes alive with her development of Devon’s personality and the devastating effects it has on loved ones, and at the book’s heart is her aim to give readers a glimpse into the mind of severe mental illness. The material may seem extreme, but audiences will relish the tension in this psychological twister.

Takeaway: A psychological thriller illuminating the effects of severe mental illness.

Great for fans of: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: NA
Editing: C
Marketing copy: A

Goodreads; various reviewers

May 27, 2022Dark rated it it was amazing

This is a novel that takes a single theme and follows it compellingly through many iterations to an inevitable, terrible conclusion.

Gavin and Devon are identical twins, mirror images of each other, except that Gavin is considerate, responsible and realistic, whereas Devon is a monster – lazy, self-centred, arrogant to the point of deranged. Completing their family, there is an almost equally obnoxious, bullying father, nouveau-riche from a corrupt background [who] regards Devon as a golden child, a natural winner with vast unspecified talents, and disparages Gavin as a hopeless loser, consigning him to the role of bullied servant to his more favoured twin. ...  One realises from early on that Devon is irredeemable. His end is inexorable; the only question is how much damage he will do on the way there. The bigger uncertainty that makes the story compelling is whether Gavin can save himself or will Devon destroy him first? As the story plays out through adulthood the drama of this question becomes ever more intense. The dénouement is absolutely riveting.

Jun 01, 2022NANCIE rated it it was amazing

This book draws you in and holds you tight.
I loved/hated the dynamic between Gavin and Devin. They are mirror twins, but so different in personality. From birth, Devin was the charismatic golden boy chosen and anointed by the twins' father to carry on the family honor and business. Gavin was the designated caretaker, too sensitive to garner his father's respect.
As Devin slips into deeper and deeper into malignant narcissism, Gavin is struggles to forge his own identity and survive in a toxic family environment.
I don't want to give away too much, but there are so many layers to these characters and their struggles. This story has it all. It's a psychological drama with a dash of murder and mayhem.
The characters are richly developed. Leslie's knowledge of psychology and her clear writing style draw you in.
Honestly, I love Gavin. His arc broke my heart at times then pieced it back together.
I can't recommend this book enough and can't wait for what Leslie has in store next!

May 27, 2022Julee Balko rated it it was amazing

I love a book that gets my stomach tingling and worried for the characters right from the start. The slow-building tension stays throughout the book and keeps you turning the pages with a little bit of dread and a lot of curiosity. The identical twin dynamic of Gavin and Devin set up an instant good versus evil plot that is riveting. This story unpacks the ultimate nature vs nurture debate and shows how a family's past can influence the future. 

Jun 06, 2022Sharon Wishnow-Ritchey rated it it was amazing

Leslie Kain's debut explores the question of nature vs. nurture when it comes to families and siblings. Identical twins Gavin and Devon DiMasi share everything but their father's love, that is reserved for Devon who by virtue of this birth order is the older twin, by ten minutes.

Kain has crafted a fascinating fly-on-the-wall view of DiMasi family as patriarch Tony DiMasi spends his way into acceptance in the family's posh suburban Boston community. Tony carries his family's Italian immigrant legacy and ties to business in Boston's North End community.

Kain's beautiful writing, intense characters, and unique setting are compelling. Will the twins break free of each other, continue to live in codependency, and find their own way in the world? The book's twist and turns and cast of characters are well drawn. This is a story full of emotions that anyone with a close sibling can understand.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 09/2022
  • 9781639884285 B0B34H59Y1
  • 364 pages
  • $9.99
Paperback Details
  • 09/2022
  • 9781639884070
  • 364 pages
  • $19.99

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