We’re pleased to offer Blurred Fates by Anastasia Zadiek as our most recent Book Club Spotlight Selection.

Category: Women’s fiction/ psychological thriller

A woman’s seemingly perfect life unravels in the face of her husband’s infidelity and her father’s death, forcing her to confront dark family secrets, lies, and her own psychological demons to save herself and those she loves.

A Quick Synopsis (without spoilers)

Kate Whittier seems to have it all: a beautiful house in a gated community, two great kids, and a solid, even-keeled husband. Yet Kate lives in fear that her toxic older brother, Daniel, will reappear; that a dark family legacy of abuse and mental illness will catch up with her; that it will all fall apart. But “anticipating disaster does not prepare you for it,” and when it strikes, Kate is shocked by the source. One ordinary evening, Kate’s husband, straight-as-an-arrow Jacob, confesses to an act of infidelity committed while black-out drunk—an act he doesn’t quite remember. Instantly overwhelmed by suppressed memories and frightening emotions, Kate finds herself behaving in ways she doesn’t even understand herself. Making matters worse, she cannot explain any of it without revealing secrets she’s kept from everyone, including Jacob.

As her marriage begins to fall apart, Kate returns to her off-again/on-again psychologist, Dr. Farber, but even in therapy, she cannot be honest. And in the end, it is her oldest friend, Ryan McCann, the man that introduced her to Jacob, that Kate relies upon. It is Ryan by her side when her brother, Daniel, calls with news of their father’s imminent demise, and it is Ryan who accompanies her as she returns to her childhood home, looking for closure. But instead of finding closure, as the past invades the present and relationships collide, Kate begins to lose herself. Moreover, she learns she is not the only one harboring dark secrets and lies—and the truth may not set anyone free.

Who’s going to love it

Women twenty and older will like this book because it deals with issues many of us have faced: abuse, addiction, suppressed memories, unrequited love, betrayal, and the fear we may be destined to follow in our parents’ footsteps. The story addresses mental illness, sexual abuse, the power of things unspoken, self-definition, and finding the right balance between looking out for oneself and giving over to the needs of others. It also presents therapeutic settings in which these issues are presented from the perspective of a psychologist, allowing for discussion of topics readers may have limited exposure to themselves and providing an opportunity for increased empathy for people whose behavior we cannot understand.

Reading guide 

The questions and discussion topics included below are provided to enhance conversations about Anastasia Zadeik’s Blurred Fates, the story of a woman with a seemingly perfect life who finds herself confronting infidelity, betrayal, and the universal question—how far would you go for the ones you love?

Questions and Topics for Discussion

(1) Forgotten, suppressed, misremembered, triggered—what does this novel say about the power of memories? Do you think memories are a reliable representation of the past?

(2) “Love and trust can be dangerous,” Kate says. How do loyalty and trust play out in relationships in this novel? Where do you rank loyalty and trust in the list of things that are important in a relationship?

(3) When does a secret become a lie of omission? Do we have an obligation to share the details of our past with spouses and family members?

4) In what ways does the author build suspense as the novel develops? How do the settings amplify the tension in the novel?

5) One of Kate’s fears is that she is destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Some people believe that our fates are determined by our DNA (nature), others believe whom we become is attributable to our upbringing and experiences (nurture), and some say it is a combination of both. Where do you stand on this issue?

(6) What allows Kate to keep an even keel overall? She doesn’t credit herself with much self- esteem, but is she stronger than she believes? How does her view of herself change over the course of the book?

(7) Discuss how public perceptions affect the characters in the novel (Kate, Jacob, Grace, Maria) and how this affects the storyline.

(8) Ryan says of Jacob, “In his worldview, notebooks from long-dead relatives are like a beehive— best not disturbed. There may be honey in there, but fear of getting stung keeps you from getting at it.” Do you think Ryan is referring only to the notebooks or to the past more generally? What are your views on considering/analyzing the past? Why do you think Kate’s mother left the notebooks for her daughter?

(9) Symbolism often adds levels of meaning to a book. Discuss the symbolism in Blurred Fates and how it relates to themes addressed in the book. (elements you might consider: the role of books, photographs, water, the kaleidoscope, scars, bruises, viruses)

(10) How would you interpret the poem that gives the book its title? Poets often read their work aloud twice before asking for feedback. Does repeating this poem change the meaning for you?

(11) In a movie, who would play these characters?

Anastasia Zadeik is the author of Blurred Fates, “a hypnotic page-turner about the frightening haziness between past and present.” (KIRKUS REVIEWS). Her work has appeared in The San Diego Decameron Project, writeordietribe.com, LitHub, Literary Vine Review, and Shaking the Tree. Director of Operations for the San Diego Writers Festival, she is also a frequent performer, coach, and board member for So Say We All, a literary nonprofit dedicated to helping people tell their stories—and tell them better [sosayweallonline.com]. When she isn’t reading or writing, you’ll find Anastasia hiking, practicing yoga, or hanging out with her husband and their empty-nest rescue dog, Charlie. To learn more (and see videos of her live storytelling), please visit anastasiazadeik.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads, @anastasiazadeik.

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