Secret Girl

Molly Bruce Jacobs

St. Martin's Griffin

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For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves.  For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards—the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir. 

When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the family’s eldest daughter, finds herself newly sober at the age of thirty-eight, she finally seeks out and comes face-to-face with this secret: Anne, a younger sister who was diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) and mental retardation, was institutionalized.  Anne has never been home to visit, and Molly Jacobs has never seen her.  Full of trepidation, she goes to meet her sister for the first time.  As the book unfolds and the sisters grow close, Jacobs learns of the decades of life not shared and gains surprising insights about herself, including why she drank for most of her adult life.  In addition, she gradually comes to understand that her parents' reasons for placing Anne in a state institution were far more complex than she'd ever imagined. 

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Praise for Secret Girl

"An important story, heartbreakingly vivid, and beautifully told."
–Jane Bernstein, author of Bereft: A Sister's Story
“Painful secrets are brought to light in this rueful, honest account.”
Publishers Weekly
Secret Girl is an unwaveringly courageous, wisely seen, and gorgeously written book about family secrets, indelible loss, and the healing power of reconciliation that stands equal to groundbreaking memoirs like Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss, and Lucy Grealey's Autobiography of a Face.”
–Julie Checkoway, author of the forthcoming book Waiting for Hockney and director of the forthcoming documentary Waiting for Hockney

“Molly Bruce Jacobs takes you on a rollercoaster ride through the range of emotions a family experiences when the parents choose to institutionalize their daughter.”
–Steve Morgan, executive director of the Arc of Baltimore
Secret Girl is a compelling evocation of the dynamics of one family around an invisible sister tucked away into an institution, and the long journey of the author to claim her sister, and claim herself. This is a memorable book...The author’s accurate eye and deep desire for truth make this book a necessary one to enter, a great visit to the birth of love between sisters, and to its persistence.”
–Anya Achtenberg, Zoetrope Award-winning author and poet
Praise for Molly Bruce Jacobs’s award-winning short story collection Small Burials:
“The author writes effortless prose. She is confident of the worlds...being created, and that confidence and a clarity of vision pull the reader in and make all the stories believable and poignant...This is wonderful work.”
–Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Molly Bruce Jacobs

Molly Bruce Jacobs’s short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and her articles and essays have appeared in AARP The Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, Redbook, and various other publications.  Before turning to writing full-time, Jacobs practiced law in Baltimore, Maryland.  She now lives in western Massachusetts.

Molly Bruce Jacobs


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Available Formats and Book Details

Secret Girl
Molly Bruce Jacobs

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
February 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312364069
ISBN10: 0312364067
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 240 pages

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
April 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429905800
ISBN10: 1429905808
240 pages

From The Publisher

St. Martin's Griffin

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