As someone who has spent her childhood in the fast paced environment of the city, author Mahogany Star is quick to dispel any preconceived notions that you may have about the world where she grew up, a world that doubles as the setting of Where Secrets Lie, the first in a series of urban novels from Mahogany Star Publishing.
“Firstly, don’t judge a city solely on what you see on the news,” says Star about prejudices people have about city life. The child of a teenage mother in Brooklyn, NY, she has lived nearly all her life there in the world where her characters reside. “Secondly, we may not have as much grass in our front yards, but our childhoods can be fun too. We make our own fun. And thirdly, open your mind! Not every person in the city is living in poverty.”
For Gigi, the heroine of Where Secrets Lie, and her best friends, the goal for the attractive young urban girl is wealth and a man, with an added bonus if the two come together. These are the prizes in the game they play and how they define their own success and happiness. Gigi finds herself scoring on both counts, but when her husband's wealth throws her into a new social class she finds herself grasping for the person she used to be. The book delves into the world of secrets and lies that surround a growing segment in today’s society, the Buppie (Black Urban Professional, the African American spin on the Yuppie), where wealth can be a dangerous veil over a world of pretense and deception.
Though the book takes this balance of needs, wants, secrets and lies to a thrillingly deadly conclusion, Star notices this as part of a growing trend in modern society. “Unfortunately, I know women who seem miserable unless they are in a relationship. Some people even get married for the wrong reasons: money, sex, or just because their friends are doing it. The institution of marriage is not to be toyed with,” says Star, who herself is a happily married wife and mother.
One of the themes within the book, whether there should be secrets in a marriage or whether honesty is always the best policy, has been hotly debated in relationship articles and advise columns since the advent of the mediums. Despite the intrigue present in the novel, however, Star's views on the matter are clear, “We marry our best friend right? How many secrets do you keep from your best friend?”
But Gigi finds secrets hidden in many unexpected places, even surrounding the girlfriends she’s known all her life. In a key difference from so many other urban novels that emphasis the bonds of sisterhood, Star sees the modern woman going in a very different direction. “I think, as we move forward, women will need men or other women less. Careers are becoming a large part of women’s lives and they are subsequently having less time for relationships. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing” she admits. “What I do look forward to is women being more self sufficient emotionally and letting these men go since they seem to be miserable with or without them. A woman respects herself when she takes care of her own emotional and physical well-being.”
Star’s story, like her city where she has lived all her life, is not what is appears to be to an outsider. Though her setting is the urban world of the city dweller and her heroine a street-wise sister rising through the ranks of social standing and the buppies, the questions of class, identity, honesty, friendship and relationship that the book addresses relate to any modern woman struggling to find herself between career, home, and family. A woman from the suburbs is just as likely as one from the city to make the wrong choices and find herself in the dark place Where Secrets Lie.
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