The Secret is the first in the Seasons of Grace series by Beverly Lewis, followed by The Missing, and The Telling, which releases next month. Grace Byler watches her parents and wonders. Her mom has been crying all the time and sneaking around. Then one morning, Grace wakes up and finds a letter from her mother saying she's leaving, with no explanation. Grace starts to look into reasons why her mother left, or locations where she might be. Meanwhile, Englischer, Heather Nelson is diagnosed with cancer and does not tell anyone. She decides a vacation to an Amish home is what she needs.
In both this book and the Annie's People series, Lewis writes a prologue and epilogue in first person narration, while the rest of the book is in third person. There is no indication that it is a journal entry, so this must be her way of introducing and wrapping up the story. Personally this does not appeal to me. It seems like an easy out.
The idea behind The Secret is enticing; I love stories about secrets. The beginning is intriguing, and I wanted to know what was happening "behind the scenes." The clues add up quickly, and it is pretty easy to predict what happens. The characters need a little more depth. I really did not feel any sympathy for Grace's mom, Lettie, or her dad for that matter. I needed more justification for her actions and his lack of communication. (eg. Was his own father like that? Was he afraid to open up?) I did enjoy the friendships depicted between Grace and Becky and their two Englisch neighbors. Beverly Lewis always gives a descriptive and inspiring picture of Amish living. We see how hard they work and how tight the community is. By the end of the book, one secret is revealed (although most will guess it), but nothing is resolved. Readers will need to read the next book for more answers. I think I have a pretty good idea of where the next two books are heading. We'll see...
Beverly Lewis remains at the forefront of Amish fiction, a genre that in my knowledge she practically started! She is from Lancaster County, PA, which is deep in the heart of Amish Country. She had written and published over 20 adult Amish novels, a half dozen picture books, and many young readers. She has won over 20 awards and sold millions of copies of her books. The Amish lifestyle is fascinating to Englischers throughout the country. We, who are often bogged down with worldly distractions, look at their simple life and long for something they seem to have that we don't. This is why it is so important for us to slow down. Turn off the tvs, computers, ipods, and cell phones. Get still. Get quiet. Put the LORD first!!!
Do not let the world distract us from Him!! I know this is unfortunately easier said than done, but God's word tells us to do it!!! Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning and I will trust Him to complete the work He has started within me!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10