Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review: The Secret by Beverly Lewis

About the book:

In the seemingly ordinary Amish home of Grace Byler, secrets abound. Why does her mother weep in the night? Why does her father refuse to admit something is dreadfully wrong? Then, in one startling moment, everything Grace assumed she knew is shattered. Her mother's disappearance leaves Grace reeling and unable to keep her betrothal promise to her long-time beau. Left to pick up the pieces of her life, Grace questions all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment.

Heather Nelson is an English grad student, stunned by a doctor's diagnosis. Surely fate would not allow her father to lose his only daughter after the death of his wife a few years before. In denial and telling no one she is terminally ill, Heather travels to Lancaster County--the last place she and her mother had visited together. Will Heather find healing for body and spirit?

As the lives of four wounded souls begin to weave together like an Amish patchwork quilt, they each discover missing pieces of their life puzzles--and glimpse the merciful and loving hand of God.

My thoughts:

While this book in no way is as good as some of Ms. Lewis' earlier works, I have to say that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. I've read several reviews that practically bashed it, saying that it's too depressing, that there are too many characters to follow, that there are loose ends not resolved, etc. I have a few things to say about each one of those points.

First of all, yes, the book is slightly depressing, but I don't think she meant for this particular series to start off as happy. Yes, the mother leaves her husband and her children, and none of them understand why. They are the ones left to pick up the shreds of their dignity among their community. None of that is pleasant, but that's the story Ms. Lewis chose to write. If you really want to see Amish fiction that's depressing, look into the Sisters of Holmes County series by Wanda Brunstetter....hands down the worst Amish series I have read to date, and I've read several.

Secondly, the characters. I didn't think there were too many to follow; it seemed to be an adequate amount to keep it interesting, but not too many to keep up with. With that said, the only complaint that I have were a few characters that had names that were too similar. Martin (Puckett) and Marian (Reihl) look very similar when you're only reading their first name, as do Adam and Andy, two other secondary characters. I think a little bit more creativity could've been used when deciding on the names.

Lastly, yes, there are loose ends at the end of the book, but that's the author's preference. Not every author is going to have a complete resolution at the end of every one of their books. There are several storylines that are going on, and they can't all be covered in one book. Otherwise, there would be complaints that the story was too rushed. I guess you can't please everybody all of the time, much less part of the time. Personally, I didn't mind that the story ended the way it did. The actual "secret" of the book was revealed, but how it will play out will have to wait until books 2 & 3.

I am quite excited to read the rest of the series, mainly because the storyline is outside the norm for Amish fiction. Women just do not walk out on their families in the Amish world. I'm not expecting happy resolutions all around when it's all said and done, but I do think it will be some great reading....I'm really looking forward to it.


  1. I'm not the biggest fan of Amish fiction because of the tendency for the plots to be so... depressing and they often do series and leave a lot unfinished for the next book. If you read them when they first come out, you are left hanging, wondering what will happen to poor Abigail and if she will be accepted by the community, her beau, or whatever.

    Having said that ~ some of the very best writers in Christian fiction today are writing in this genre, so the books themselves can really grab your heart and make you care about the characters. It's a good thing we have so many different kinds of books to read.

    You did a fantastic review! Thank you. :o)

  2. Lee~

    Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read my review.

    I personally have not read that many depressing Amish books--most of what I've read has been about a girl choosing between an Amish boy or and English boy, or some similar story line or variation. So, I appreciated the fact that this story revolved more around the mom. The main portion of the book that was depressing was the reactions from the father and the children dealing with the mom just up and leaving with no real explanation.

    I just liked it because it was different, and have every intention of reading the next 2 books. If you consider reading them, I'd love to know what you think. :o)

  3. Christy------
    I'd love to trade buttons with you!
    I grabbed yours...
    stop by What You Reading Now?
    at www.whatYouReadingNow.blogspot.com to grab mine...


    (Found your blog on PaperbackSwap!)

  4. It bothers me when readers want everything tied up in a neat bow at the end of the story. We don't mind when it's done on television.

    I was pleased it wasn't the same ole which-man-to-choose story too. I had to return the second book in the series before I had a chance to read it. Bummer. I'll borrow it again.


I love your comments!! They make me happier than cold sweet tea on a hot summer day! :o)