Tracie Peterson's historical fiction are among some of my earliest endeavors into reading Christian fiction. I was surprised to find a stand-alone contemporary title on our library's shelves and grabbed it for a quick read. I love series novels, but don't always have the time to commit to multiple books.
Right from the start I will say that this is not my favorite Peterson work. She has tackled a difficult topic, the serious mental illness and subsequent death of a young parent. Years pass, the children grow up, scarred by what they believe is a secret they must keep to protect their father. I credit Peterson for tackling such a pertinent and powerful topic, but I felt the delivery of the story was slightly out of step. Most of the story is told through oldest sister Bailee's relevations and flashbacks. If you logically put all she tells into a timeline of over ten years (age 3-13), I find the father's actions and attempts to help to be lacking, despite his explanations throughout the book. Everyone who has experienced life around someone with mental illness knows the ups and downs, the failure of the medical profession, and the deep desire of everyone within the family that all will turn out okay. With that in mind, I guess Peterson's story is plausible, yet I kept coming back to my question, "Where is the father?" Because I felt that way, I never totally embraced the story.
As a lesson in putting the past in God's hands, accepting that you are not responsible for other's actions, and seeking professional help when needed, this is a worthy addition to Christian fiction. It also clearly illustrates that children are deeply affected by the adult world around them and can be greatly harmend by attempts to protect them by simply ignoring the ugly events of life. They must make sense of what they've seen and experienced. When adults do not intervene with help, children will create their own secret versions of truth. Guilt and blame ensure. Powerful topic, but not my favorite read.