“Every lie you tell, every secret you keep, is a fragile little thing that must be protected and accounted for…”—Wanda M. Morris, All Her Little Secrets
Ellice Littlejohn has been hoarding a cache of secrets from her friends and coworkers. Not only did she grow up poor and Black in rural Georgia, she had with an alcoholic mother and a sexually abusive stepfather and her kid brother is an ex-con. She’ll do anything to stay out of the spotlight.
Now she has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a long-term affair with a rich executive—her White boss, Michael Sayles—who is married.
But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head. Ellice just walks away; afraid her secrets will get out. What appears to be a suicide is later determined to be murder, and having been hastily promoted as his replacement, she becomes a prime suspect.
When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an untenable ethical and moral dilemma. Her past and present lives collide as she races to protect her brother and stop a sinister conspiracy.
I wanted to root for Ellice, a Black woman in a company dominated by White men, but her affair with a married man caused me to dislike her right off the bat.
In the beginning of the book, the author portrays Ellice as a strong, confident woman, but as the storyline progresses, this “intelligent” attorney does some cringeworthy, stupid things. Her mistakes in judgement grew frustrating.
I also found the dialogue to be lacking. The banter between Ellice and her friend Grace was silly and didn’t suit the serious circumstances. The same applies to the conversations she had with her brother, Sam.
There were some definite positives, though. Thematically, the plot is a spot-on social commentary about racial and sexual discrimination and loathsome corporate politics. Wanda Morris wrote All Her Little Secrets in first person, which created tension. She injected little cliffhangers at the conclusion of most chapters that encouraged me to read on. I enjoyed young Ellice’s narrative the most. The sexual abuse she experiences was emotionally gripping and effective.
All Her Little Secrets was a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Debut Novel (2021) and Best Mystery & Thriller (2021), so other readers felt differently about it. This book missed the mark for me, but I’ll give the author another try. 3 stars.