By Tracie Peterson
Published by: Bethany House
When her father orchestrates a surprise trip to the summer house of her childhood, Bailee Cooper is unprepared for what follows. What is intended to be a happy reunion for Bailee and her sisters, Geena and Piper, quickly becomes shrouded by memories from the past.
Together again, the three sisters sift through their recollections of fifteen years ago...of an ill mother, and of their father making a desperate choice. They vowed, as children, to be silent--but one sister believes the truth must now be revealed. Yet can they trust their memories?
Mark Delahunt arrives in the wake of this emotional turmoil. Determined to win Bailee's affection, Mark becomes the strong fortress for her in this time of confusion, and what was once a tentative promise begins to take root and grow. Caught between the past and an uncertain future, can Bailee let God guide her to heal the past and ultimately to embrace love?
Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy of a compelling, honest look at family-the good the bad and the ugly. This author tackles a subject not many want to think about or know how to deal with and that is mental illness.
The title grabbed my interest; I loved the word pictures it created in my mind. I wondered how Tracie Peterson would handle mental illness in her novel. This story begins with a father calling an important family meeting. No so strange but it is in their family. Bailee was twenty-four years old and last had a family meeting the day their mom died. All three sisters are to meet their dad at their family’s vacation house. Nobody can figure out what the big news their dad had to share.
They haven’t been back to this house since their mother passed away in it 15 years ago. After that the girls were sent off to boarding school. Their father worked hard and through summers so they had nannies; they didn’t have much of a relationship or a family for that matter. It all died with their mother.
Bailee thinks to herself, “I was being drawn back to that house of secrets – to those hidden memories of loss and sorrow. For so long I had fooled myself into believing the past would never catch up with me. But now the moment of truth had come…and if there was a hell, I just knew that demons were dancing in delight.”
Needless to say no one was thrilled about this meeting. They talked about the family secrets they kept since their mother passed. Did they dare confront their father about what they thought had happened that night? If they did their whole family dynamic would change. But, frankly there wasn’t much there now so what could it hurt?
I liked what Tracie had to say about pain and secrets through her characters, “Some people hold onto pain. Not for the feeling of anguish, but because it’s all that’s familiar. Like holding a long, long grudge; it’s a known element – something recognizable. There’s a warped sort of comfort in that… it aids in the choices we make for ourselves. We can cradle the hurt and pain – wrap it around us like a shield to keep ourselves safe from attack – or we can let it die.”
This was a new thought for Bailee. “Let it die… Could a person really let pain die? Could they stop feeling it and nourishing it with reminders and accusations of the past?
…Bailees friend said, “We don’t have control over what another person does or how they feel. We only have control over how we respond to it – what we do with it.” Amen to that!
I was instantly engaged in the lives of these three sisters and how they were determined end their family secrets and expose everything. I also felt their anguish of time lost with each other and of the one they didn’t want anything to do with - God. If He was loving why did Bailee and her family suffer?
I’d like to think that all families could sit down and talk about secrets, pain, disappointments and begin to forgive like Bailee’s family did. Yes, anything is possible through Christ that strengthens us and I know God moves in mysterious ways. He’s creative and resourceful in how He heals. I also realize not everyone accepts Christ when given the chance. Life is messy and most the time isn’t tied up in a nice neat bow!
It was quite fascinating to read about how each person dealt with the unfolding drama when all the secrets are out in the open and they soon found out not everything was as it appeared. It just proves you can’t really rely on what you see. There is so much more to the story that you don’t see in real life and in this novel. Little ones don’t have a grasp on what happens in a grown-up world. It was fascinating how Tracie dealt with this.
This was the first novel I’ve read by Tracie Peterson. I liked it so much I’m definitely looking up her others. I enjoyed the fact that she wrote this book in first person and that person wasn’t a believer. It was interesting to experience things through her eyes. It wasn’t preachy, but real. How do you show the love of Christ to someone who’s deeply hurt? There's no formula or pat answer in how to do this. I liked how the author handled this subject on many fronts. I liked how Tracie deals with the powerful spiritual thread which is skillfully interwoven into the story as this family faced the emotional land minds of past secrets. I liked her balance and skill in showing how this hurting family dealt with the issues and loved each other through it all.
I highly recommend this book not only for an entertaining read but it’s a read that will open your eyes to how to navigate through emotional healing at any age. Tracie does a good job in showing that God does care and is with us always even when we can't feel his presence in the middle of the storm.
Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent