Family Secrets (Secrets and Second Chances series Book 1)


Fiction - Drama
466 Pages
Reviewed on 02/07/2015
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Author Biography

Donna M. Zadunajsky started out writing children’s books before she accomplished and published her first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012. She then has written several more novels and her first novella, HELP ME!, which is a subject about suicide and bullying.
She is currently working on an adult novel series and a Young Adult series about self-harm and suicide topics.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Eileen Johnson for Readers' Favorite

Family Secrets: Secrets and Second Chances Book 1 by Donna M. Zadunajsky opens with Alexis Finley contemplating how unfair life is. Ten months ago, Jay, her husband and love of her life, committed suicide. Since then, Colton, Alexis' seventeen-year-old son, has become more distant and although they live in the same house Colton and Alexis are like strangers. And now, Alexis has received the diagnosis of breast cancer. As a driven and successful astronaut scheduled to go on the next flight into space, Alexis realizes that this diagnosis means she will have to give up her lifelong dream. So begins the journey that will take the Finley family through the secrets that have kept them distant for so many years. Midway through the book, there is a wonderful twist that changes the course of the action and the lives of Alexis and Colton.

Family Secrets: Secrets and Second Chances Book 1 by Donna M. Zadunajsky is a look into the secrets of a family that, at least on the surface, always seemed so normal. There are wonderful supporting characters in the book: Sarah Ramsey, Alexis' doctor and friend, and Anna, a clerk in the hospital who becomes much more to Colton. Zadunajsky does a great job creating tension and developing a story that kept my interest from beginning to end. There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged as the family secrets unfold and the answers to the mysteries are revealed. Looking forward to Book 2 in the series!

Jackie Timmons

Family Secrets by Donna Zadunajsky is a story full of ups and downs and twists and turns. Alexis Finley has already experienced quite a roller coaster before the book begins. Her husband committed suicide, leaving her and her teenage son, Colton, on their own. And, several months later, she was chosen by her employer, NASA, to join an astronaut crew into outer space. Going to space has been her lifelong dream and something she has devoted all of her time, passion, and thought to over the past 15 years. But, Alexis is soon diagnosed with breast cancer. Her first concern when hearing this is not for her life or her son, but for how this will affect her ability to go into space. At first she tries to hide her sickness from everyone. Meanwhile, Alexis attempts to talk to her son but they keep butting heads.

Colton feels rejected by his mother - she's put work ahead of him practically his whole life and he blames her for his father's suicide. But something doesn't feel right about his father's death. Colton doesn't believe his father killed himself. He is on a mission to find his father's killer. That is, until his mom ends up in the hospital and her doctor friend fills Colton in on what is really going on. Can Colton and Alexis build a healthy relationship? What really happened to Colton's father? Will Alexis be able to beat her cancer?

Family Secrets is filled with secrets, questions, story lines, and emotions. I didn't love the character of Alexis at first, but as she progressed throughout the story I liked her more and more. I really liked Colton and was hoping for everything to pull together for his sake. The character of Alexis' doctor friend, Sarah, was genuine, kind and selfless. Donna Zadunajsky's story had more twists and suspense than I expected so that was an excellent bonus. I did get tired of reading about how Alexis had ignored her family for her job. It seemed to be repeated constantly through everyone's story line. But the rest of the story was interesting enough to keep me engaged. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for women's fiction with some extra suspense.

Paul Johnson

Alexis has always dreamed of bigger things and worked hard to make them happen. She married after college and had a baby boy. When her son Colton was in grade school, she decided to strive for another dream and landed a job at NASA. Somewhere along the way, work became the most important thing in her life as her husband, Jay, took the lead on raising their son. Twelve years later the unthinkable happened when Jay suddenly committed suicide. Colton immediately went into denial and blamed his mother as Alexis continued to bury herself in her work.

Now, months later, Alexis’s biggest dream comes true when she’s selected to be on the next space shuttle. However, her world comes crashing down when she finds out she has breast cancer. Her treatment doesn’t go as well as hoped and her health declines as Colton delves into the dangerous circumstances of his father’s death. What will happen to them as they learn that things are not exactly as they seem?

Family Secrets by Donna M. Zadunajsky is a technically well-written book, easy to read and follow. I would have to classify it as a family drama with a touch of mystery. It is very detailed oriented which slowed the plot down from time to time. However, the characters are well defined. The author details their strengths and flaws while dealing with a very serious subject. The tone was consistent and I felt that the plot, although sometimes cumbersome, was original. The dialogue is realistic and well done. Overall, a nice book.