This is one of those books that keeps you turning the page, wondering what is going to happen next. I finished it very quickly, and the ending is quite satisfying and does not end the way you think it will.
Every Secret Thing is written in first person, which is becoming my favorite point of view in the last few months. The fact that you can only see one person’s point of view brings a certain mystery to what the other characters are really thinking. We can only suppose what their thoughts are after hearing the main character’s opinion. We may agree with her; we may not. The other thing I enjoy about the first person POV is that I can understand the character very deeply. The whole book is written through her eyes, her way of seeing things, and her way of looking at life and circumstances. In this book, I felt like the character was me, like I was living the story. I feel pretty strongly that most people will be able to relate to the main character’s feelings of inadequacy and being invisible.
The first line of the prologue hooked me, and the book never let me down after that. The main character, Beth, goes back to her old high school to teach English. She doesn’t feel she will do well enough, like she isn’t good enough to be a teacher, but she ends up making a life-changing impact on someone. If this book says nothing else, it shows that the most insecure person can be used by God to impact another’s life. Sometimes all we have to do is be there for someone, and the Holy Spirit does the rest. The relationship between Beth and one of her students is incredibly real and heartwarming. It really makes me want to influence someone in the same way.
There are several other storylines in the book. One of the storylines is what drives you forward to keep reading page after page. It moves back and forth between Beth’s senior year of highschool and the present. It creates a mystery, which has haunted Beth her entire life. Just being back on her high school campus has brought it all back, and we watch her try to resolve it and get some closure.
I’ve been reading Christian fiction for decades, having worked in Christian retailing for fifteen years and counting. Somehow, Ann Tatlock has evaded me. This is the first book of hers that I have read. If all of her works are this great, she may become one of my new favorites.
The book touches on every person’s ability to feel God in their lives even if they know nothing of him. If they can realize that it is God who is creating these moments of awe and longing, they can seek him out. Even the main character, raised as a Christian, experiences God again after years of drifting. It seems like this is a small part of the book, but it is the underlying theme of the entire story. What I really enjoyed were the discussion questions at the end. In reading them and possibly participating in a group discussion, you can really understand Ann’s reasons for writing this book and what she is conveying about God – what she wants her readers to take from it.
This was a great read. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the book. There was no heavy description to bog the story down, but she gives a beautiful sense of setting. The book is also permeated with classic literature and the effect it had on some of the characters’ outlooks. Although it includes great literature, it is not heavily weighed down with it and is easily read even if you’ve never really studied classic lit like me. All in all, I say, “go get this book and read it now.” I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed it! Great work, Ann!
Back cover description:
When Elizabeth Gunner accepts a job as an English teacher at the school she attended as a girl, she finds herself returning to more than a place. Seaton Preparatory holds so many memories – of a beloved teacher who left under mysterious circumstances, of a young woman searching for her place in the world, of a former love.
Once there, Elizabeth finds unexpected challenges – and challenging people. She meets Satchel Queen, a troubled student whose writing assignments draw her attention. And Ray Schmidt is a childhood friend her heart has never forgotten.
As new friendships form and the past is brought to light, Elizabeth finds renewal from a most unexpected source.
A rich, multilayered love story with memorable characters and a captivating mystery.