Summary: Fourteen year-old Zoe is facing major life changes. Her mother died and she’s suddenly moving from Toronto, Ontario to Port au Choix, Newfoundland to live with a father she’s never met because her mother told her he was dead. Things become more confusing when Zoe realises her new family have secrets of their own, but it turns out her father being alive was not the only thing her mother was hiding. When Zoe’s Aunt Caroline sends her mother’s journals to her, she learns just how terrifying facing the truth can be.
Number of Pages: 175
Age Range: 13-14
Review: In a story interwoven with apt quotes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Alice Walsh explores the difference between lies and truth and the meaning of family through one girl’s journey toward honesty.
Side plots include lessons about the Maritime Archaic Indian and painting, a singular focus on the photography of Diane Arbus, a step-mother’s hysterical pregnancy and a grandfather’s obsession with The Tempest.
I was interested in Zoe’s developing sense of self, but I found myself continually frustrated by the pacing of the book. I wanted answers before Walsh was ready to reveal them. In the end, I was rewarded for waiting, but I definitely wasn’t a patient reader.
When the truth is revealed, Zoe is encouraged to just get over it and seems to in a single chapter and an epilogue. I did not find this believable considering what had happened and wished there had been further character development.
I did love the way the quotes totally set up what was about to happen in the chapter, but as a result at the end of this book the strongest feeling I am left with is a desire to re-read The Tempest. I have a sneaky suspicion that if it were fresher in my mind, I would have been caught up in drawing parallels between the stories and therefore would have enjoyed Buried Truths more.
“Her friend Omar, who had moved to Toronto from Afghanistan, used to say: “The truth is like the sun. When it comes out, no one can hide from it.” – Omar from Buried Truths by Alice Walsh, pages 122-123
“She fixed her eyes on the photograph of the Mexican dwarf.
‘A Diane Arbus,’ Opa said, following her gaze.
‘Kind of scary.’
‘That my dear, might not be attractive, but it really is a work of art.’ He reached out his hand to straighten the picture. ‘Arbus photographed a number of ‘freaks’ as she called them. She thought most people went through life fearing some kind of trauma. Freaks, according to Arbus, had survived their trauma. They already passed their test in life. She saw them as aristocrats.’ – Alexander/Opa from Buried Truths by Alice Walsh, page 146
‘We celebrate the life we are given, not the one we hope to have,’ Opa said quietly. ‘I know you must feel terribly betrayed.’ He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. ‘But if you don’t cut the strings of resentment and make peace with this, it will destroy you.’ – Alexander/Opa from Buried Truths by Alice Walsh, page 173