The Lattimores work at being as “normal” a family as possible within the strictures of caring for a son with Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a rare genetic disorder that causes extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Only 40% of individuals with XP survive beyond age 20. For Eve, this means doing everything possible to protect Tyler, whatever the consequences. She muses,
“How is a parent supposed to balance the needs of a healthy child against a fragile one? It can’t ever be equal—not the time, nor the resources, nor the hours lying awake in the dark consumed by tangled thoughts—but the love can be exactly the same. The love has always been split precisely down the middle, an effortless divide. Melissa knows this. She must know this.”
But like most fourteen-year-old boys, Tyler is increasingly resisting mom’s efforts to swaddle him, like most sixteen-year-olds, Melissa still needs her mother. Husband David works out-of-town and the physical distance is beginning to influence an emotional distance, and the neighbors in their quiet street, who each have their own secrets, are increasingly reluctant to abide by the requests of Eve to use special light bulbs in their outdoor fixtures, especially in the wake of a tragedy that puts everyone on edge. In raising a son whose day, of necessity, starts at sunset, Eve convinces herself that his life relies on her, so what is she to do when the consequences of her actions might remove her from him?
I found The Deepest Secret a quick read and I appreciated Buckley’s handling of the differing viewpoints in the dilemma facing all parents—loving and letting go. I read an uncorrected proof, so the encapsulating quote above may be changed by the time the book goes on sale on February 4, 2014.