Story Statement: Settle the score with the individuals she holds responsible for callously ruining her family. Antagonist: Troy Dunbar is the epitome of a big fish in a small pond. His family is practically royalty in his small Upstate New York town. He’s a good-looking hotshot jock who never had to work for anything a day in his life. He won the parent lottery at birth. He’s the antithesis of Lizzy who has parented herself since her mother’s suicide and her father’s self-induced alcohol haze. Life has been anything but easy for Lizzy. Even though her father works for his father, she’s avoided Troy’s orbit up until now. Unfortunately, he’s best friends with Lizzy’s new boyfriend, Jackson. But the two are nothing alike. Troy comes from money, and it shows; he drives a new truck, and he likes to dabble in expensive recreational drugs. He’s entitled and cruel. He charms others into believing he’s a good guy, but Lizzy sees through his act. She knows the real Troy. He’s like a wild animal with an engorged stomach still hunting for prey. He doesn’t need to inflict another deadly wound, but he can, so he does. Lizzy’s friends think that Troy has a thing for her, but she knows better. He threatens her father’s job when she refuses a ride home and when she witnesses him buying drugs, he ensures her silence by reminding her that he could blow up her relationship with Jackson. She’s his latest target and Troy Dunbar always gets what he wants. Titles: The Secret Keeper Her Secrets Little Secrets, Big Lies Comparables: Sometimes I Lie – By Alice Feeney and A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window Core Wound: A young girl is derailed when she discovers the cherished photograph depicting her and her deceased mother is a lie, so she seeks revenge on the family she holds responsible for stealing her family. Inner Conflict: When Lizzy returns home, she is conflicted about her past relationships. Abandoning her cold and neglectful father was a necessity seventeen years ago, but upon returning home she is confronted by the fact that he morphed into a real person with friends and even hobbies. He even stopped drinking. Is it possible, her memories of her father are flawed? Ironically, she’s now the drunk rattling around her childhood home. She rationalizes her own drinking as a temporary fix, but she’s aware of where it can lead and how it can damage her relationship with her son. The last thing she wants is for him to learn she’s drinking and to worry about her well-being. She doesn’t want to be a burden to him. She’s also conflicted when it comes to the two high school friends she reconnects with. She carries guilt for involving both in the cover up of Troy’s death seventeen years ago and fleeing as she did. She’s also anxious that her mere presence back in her hometown now is exposing them to danger again. Lizzy is also conflicted when it comes to her old high school flame, Jackson. She’s the one who was responsible for his best friend’s death. She carries the weight of that secret as a teen and again when she reunites with him years later. More than anything else, Lizzy wants to keep her son’s existence a secret. Even readers don’t learn of his existence until the end of the novel. She’ll do whatever is necessary to keep him safe. Setting: The novel takes place in a fictional upstate New York town named Hamilton. It is a tiny spot on the map of New York State. It’s only a few hours from NYC, but lightyears away from all the hustle and bustle. It’s a safe place to raise a family. It’s the type of type of small town where you don’t have to lock your doors. The residents of Hamilton live a sheltered existence. In 2002, there is a Main Street with local shops and developments spread out on either side. Lizzy, lives in a farmhouse outside of town. She rides her bike to her waitressing job and to meet her friends in the local park. Hamilton Woods is a known hangout spot for underage kids who like to party. Hamilton Lake sits beneath the woods. In 2019, Hamilton is modernized. There’s even a Starbucks. Some of the old storefronts remain, but many have changed over. Hamilton Woods has been taken over by outdoor enthusiasts who hike and run. This picturesque setting is juxtaposed with the family strife, violence, and murder that occurs.