The Truth and Other Hidden Things

Lea Geller

Lake Union Publishing 2021

Lea Geller’s, “The Truth and other Hidden Things,” portrays a desperate mother and housewife who becomes addicted to “likes” on her gossip column with a grandiose idea she will soon get a “book deal.”

Bells Walker seemed to have it all, a completely successful life. She has a law degree, her loving husband, Harry, an heir to wealth, is an also English professor. And they are parents to two teenagers and live comfortably in college housing in Manhattan. Then her husband fails to gain tenure so they loose their perks, and move to the suburbs, to a town called Pigkill, in New York’s Hudson Valley where Harry secures a position at Dutchess College. At about the same time, Bell learns that her IUD has failed, and her and Harry prepare for a new child.

The newly pregnant Bells consumes prodigious amounts of pastries and her kids struggle to make friends. Harry meanwhile joyfully searches for vegetables at various farmer’s market and rides his bike to a job he much enjoys. Harry encourages Bells to meet the locals, but rather than become part of the community, she instead spies on the women.

She writes columns for a Manhattan alternative newspaper in which she alleges aging mothers in her town are hooking up for sex with “twenty-something” millennials through a “Chore Donkey” app that advertises home repair services. Bells tells herself she isn’t a journalist so she doesn’t need attribution.

She becomes starved for even more gossip so she drives around town, goes to fairs and takes a yoga class. Though Bells realizes many of the women’s’ husbands work at the College and she might be jeopardizing her husband’s opportunity for tenure, she nevertheless presses ahead. “I did it because I was so hungry for significance,” she subsequently acknowledges. “I was starving to matter, and that outweighed any consequences I could contemplate.”

Not a literary read for sure, but you can’t ignore the reality that the internet and blogging can play a dangerous role for anyone who is lonely and insecure — even if they possess a law degree and know the dangers of false accusations. The book certainly is not “fiercely funny,” as it is marketed, but rather a teeth-grinder. Actually, there is simply nothing amusing about Bell’s irresponsible actions.