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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Secret Box: Searching for Dad in a Century of Self by Tony Page is the author's memoir chronicling his own life and that of his deceased father and the family left behind. It starts with Page's earliest memory of abandonment at the age of fourteen, when he and his siblings go out for a swim in the Deben Estuary with their father. Soon after, Page's father and sister swim ahead into the open water and, forced into a vigorous current, Page finds himself alone, in danger, and afraid. However, it is the silence that follows that cloaks the author's life. Many years later when Page's father dies, his father's third wife hands him a box that sits unopened for over a decade. Once opened, Page begins the difficult personal journey of finding out who his father really was, attempting to piece a fragmented life back together for answers.
Secret Box by Tony Page is an interesting read, and one I had to step away from a few times; not because it isn't wholly engrossing (it certainly is) but because it doesn't make for light reading. Intelligently written and surprisingly thoughtful (given what he'd been through), Page details family history, the downfall of a marriage and destruction of his family, and the resulting tailspin that ensued and impacted his life over sixty years. I enjoyed the writing style which felt as if I was being told a story by a friend. A resolution of sorts is ultimately achieved by Page himself, although his father did make a half-hearted non-apology that he self-indulgently referred to as "atonement", and as this is the best that can be mustered by a man of the "silent generation", Page turns inwardly for the healing that all of us in similar situations wish for.