Book Review: The Bottle of Tears by Nick Alexander


Trigger warning: sexual abuse, suicide, drugs

A Window to A Realistic Family Life

The Bottle of Tears is a story about two sisters polarized by their past and a secret that only one of them knew. The discord in the family was aggravated by their mother who laced lies in her version of what one said about the other. The sisters were being pulled apart by their differences but, as a family, their primal connection pushed them back together. This tug-of-war was shrouded with overwhelming emotions that can only be overcome by facing the truth.  The Bottle of Tears is a window to a family quandary caused by childhood trauma.

Mystery Binds The Family Dynamics 

The opening scene set the most prominent mood in the whole story, sad and mysterious. What happened on Christmas Day when Victoria was eight and Penny was six changed their lives entirely.

The thinking process and attitude of Victoria toward her mother, sister, husband, son, and other relatives and friends enkindled questions that she avoided answering.  She had been suffering from a lot of conditions including anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder which also made the family situation more challenging.  Her desire to keep everything clean, disinfected, and in order masked her true feelings and hid a dark secret that she wanted to be kept to herself. Even though she numbed herself with medications, the truth wanted to come out.

On the other hand, Penny had been left in the dark and this pushed her to react to Victoria's proclivities in a way that added more fuel to the fire. She was also present when the life-changing event happened but she couldn't understand Victoria. Their mother must know but she also didn't tell Penny. It's also a mystery that their mother tried to widen the gap between the two sisters by inciting misunderstanding and disgust. Despite this, Marge served as the tug that loosened the tight string of the bag that held all their grudges, pain, and fear formed in the past.

I Need a Breather!

Reading The Bottle of Tears made me feel like a big, dark cloud had been hanging over me. The author strongly established the splintered relationship between the two sisters and their mother, however, the constant churning of negative emotions in most of the scenes and chapters was overwhelming.

Even the secondary characters had problems of their own that intensified wearisome emotions. Penny's family had financial difficulties. Victoria's family had personal issues. After diving into their stories, I needed to go to the surface of this ocean of heavy emotions to give myself time to breathe. In my own opinion, the book was not a page-turner.

A Light At the End of the Tunnel

Interesting fact, the original title of this novel was “ Let The Light Shine”, self-published in 2016. In 2019, Lake Union Publishing published it under the new title, The Bottle of Tears, which I think is more appropriate as it describes the general atmosphere of the story. The first title, though, tells what Nick Alexander showed in the latter part of the book. Eventually, the truth came out. Finally, Victoria’s burden lightened but Penny received the bigger blow that led to their falling out again. After knowing the true reason for Victoria’s predicament, they were not on speaking terms for a year. In the end, to observe the death anniversary of their loved one, they got together with more acceptance, openness, and understanding that there would always be a time they would stay away from each other but their sisterly love would always link them together. Alexander showed there was a light, a symbol of redemption and hope, but it was a faint light.

The Bottle of Tears is for readers who love realistic, deep family drama.


“The secret in life is to quit while you’re ahead.” - Sander

“Still, I suppose we should be happy for their success and all that, shouldn’t we? Jealousy’s a terrible thing when you think about it.”- Marge

“... it was like a bottle full of pain, if you can imagine that. And each time you let yourself remember, each time you let yourself feel the pain, each time you cry, you empty the bottle a little bit. So it becomes easier to carry.” - Penny

“There’s no comparison, really, but every person’s biggest trauma is still that person’s biggest trauma. There is no relativity within the realm of one’s own subconscious...these things never go away. They only become easier to bear.” - Penny

“We all put on a bit of weight. It’s called being human.” - Penny

Book Information:

The Bottle of Tears by Nick Alexander
Published on August 1, 2019, by Lake Union Publishing
357 pages (eBook)

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