Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Janet Sketchley's new novel SECRETS & LIES: my review

The men in Carol's life have caused her plenty of grief. Her aptly named husband, Skip, skipped out on their relationship, devoting himself to womanizing and a rock-music career. One of their sons died of a drug overdose. Carol's brother, Harry, is in prison for rape and murder. He claims to have become a Christian and says he prays for her. Carol isn't impressed.

Prayer hasn't "worked" for her in the past, and Harry's crimes have thrown her into serious trouble. He was wealthy before he went to prison, and the drug dealers he was involved with claim they have a right to his money. The think Harry hid it and they can lay hands on it through Carol. But she doesn't know where it is.

Carol and her sixteen-year-old son, Paul, move to Toronto to escape the money-hungry harassers. But the drug dealers soon find them, and start pestering and threatening them. Carol gets a police detective on the case, and tries to create a normal life for herself and Paul. In the meantime she meets two men who show a romantic interest in her.

One man is a deejay and reformed drug addict, Joey, who encourages her and her son to commit their lives to Christ and trust God with their precarious future. The other man, Patrick, is a sophisticated and cultured widower mourning the loss of his beloved wife.

Paul, Carol's son, prefers Joey. He tells his mother that Joey is "better than that Patrick guy….He's plastic. Nobody living inside."

Is Paul right or not? That's only one of Carol's many concerns. As his mother, she wants him to grow up to be a better man than his father, Skip. In her view that would include not becoming a musician.

On the other hand, Paul loves playing the guitar. Making music is almost as vital to him as breathing. Can he "serve his gift" without letting it take over his life in ways that hurt himself and others? Joey thinks so. He says, "You can be brilliant in one area, but if you keep your balance with the rest of your world, you can add to it instead of taking away."

Author Janet Sketchley (pictured here) has a deep understanding of keeping that balance, and explores it in this book. Also important in the book is her exploration of the virtue of trust. At one point Carol says, "If I can't trust people, how can I risk trusting God?" Her journey toward answering that question is marked by bumps, detours, and life-threatening situations. I'm glad to have shared her journey through reading the book.

Secrets & Lies is not as straightforward as Sketchley's earlier novel, Heaven's Prey. I didn't always understand why the characters acted as they did, or why things happened as they did. However, Secrets & Lies is still a good read.

One of my favourite passages begins with this advice given to Carol by one of the other characters: "'Since fear is a behaviour pattern for you, your mind will go back to it. Like a path worn in the grass. It takes time for the grass to re-grow while you wear a new path.'

"A heaviness settled in her stomach. 'So I’ll have more nightmares?'
"'Whenever you catch the fear response starting, or if you have another nightmare, remember you don’t have to surrender. Say it out loud. Things like, 'Jesus is my shepherd. I don’t have to be afraid.' Believe it’s true even if you don’t feel it, and change will come.'"

Wise words from a wise author.

Secrets & Lies is 320 pages long and sells for about $17 on Amazon and elsewhere. The e-book version, also available from Amazon, sells for about $1.12.

Elma Schemenauer "ELMA MARY OF THE PRAIRIE," author of 75 books, editor of many more, ,

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Elma, for such a detailed and thought-filled review. It takes a lot of time to include quotes and weave everything together like this, and time is precious.

    Just a heads-up to anyone looking for an ebook copy: regular price is around $3.10 Canadian ($2.99 US) and the promotional price will end any time now.