To Die in Secret by Haviva Ner-David
When we first meet Nomi, she is gazing out the window of an airplane taking her from the kibbutz that’s been home all her adult life, to Massachusetts, which she has not seen since she left after a traumatic fallout with her parents in high school. Her only sister and nephew were found mysteriously dead in their big farmhouse on the outskirts of Salem, and her widowed mother is suffering from dementia in a nursing home nearby.
Recently widowed herself, and childless, Nomi, at sixty, still grapples with the consequences of the event that sent her into exile as a teenager. She hasn’t seen her mother in forty years and fears it’s too late to heal wounds that have festered far too long. She simply wants to settle her sister’s estate, make sure her mother’s safe, and return to her safe kibbutz life.
What seems like a straightforward mission is complicated by the mystery of her sister’s death, the plight of a pregnant teenager rejected by her Orthodox Jewish parents, and John, the sympathetic police officer who befriends her. The old farmhouse Nomi inherits from her sister also holds mysteries, and maybe a ghost, of its own.
To Die in Secret weaves interlocking threads of a richly complex tale of trauma, parenting, and forgiveness, as succeeding generations face horrific situations and unimaginable choices and struggle to find the hope and faith to carry on.
Year first published: 2023