The story was told from sister Stevie's perspective. Stevie gave entrance into her world with a down-to-earth yet slightly humorous conversational voice. Throughout the story, words were beautifully strung into visual accounts of Stevie's memories of days gone by (some good, some not-so-good, some awfully grievous).
One example of the author's amazing visual account of Stevie's growing up was on page 96, "Once I'd determined how to operate the phonograph, the music magically swelled outward, flooding the enormous room and washing over the gloom with waves of vigorous energy. And while the rain battered down unabated against the skin of weather beaten clapboards sheathing the house, pummeling sea and sand like machine-gun fire - I danced-spinning, twisting and gyrating with wild wicked abandon, as song after song dosed me with an invigorating intensity." Now who hasn't done that?!
Sadly, the sisters' unified front begins to fray beginning on page 113. Without being a spoiler, lies began to grow and the truth became quickly muffled by silence. At times I slammed my fist on the table next to me, shook my head in disbelief and cried tears of joy as well as sadness. Stevie was so courageous - but silent. I desperately wanted Stevie to shout for all the world to hear - for her to be angry - to be vociferous, to report in detail everything that had happened to someone other than her aunt (who muzzled her).
Thankfully, I got to witness the loose and extremely frayed ends become tied. A "you reap what you sow" last chapter. Many may refer to Karma or "getting back what you put out." However the reader views the last chapter, I smiled inwardly because truly Stevie did win in the end. Actually, she was awarded a new beginning. She had a Bible with the names of her deceased family members written in it. I silently hoped that one day she would crack that Bible open for more than recording her geneology and instead learn about her Saviour's geneology. If not for her or her husband - but for her future children. But that is just me, being a believer...
I was blessed to travel through the pages of The Secret of Lies and read of the romantic, PG-rated accounts of Stevie's romantic adventures. Both of her suitors respected her as a woman and both were heroes. I did not find redemptive value in the other characters other than in her mother's cautious but loving care. The last chapter was my favorite chapter. Actually, the last scene I shall not soon forget. I felt the author may have left the door open for a sequel.
Ms. Barbara Forte Abate's work was peppered with amazing images of seaside storms, childhood struggles, dysfunctional fleshly family members as well as several accounts of human frailty and fear. I was sad to have to turned the last page. Stevie was a survivor. No doubt she grew wiser as a result of covering up the truth.
I hope those two suitcases never left the farmhouse. I hope the luggage remained side-by-side for many years. No doubt the secrecy ended as the screen door slammed shut just before the couple headed up the stairs to mend their first feud as husband and wife. In the morning as they rose, no doubt a new chapter began.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from http://www.promotionalacarte/ as part of their Courtesy a la Carte book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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