As Elizabeth Gunnar begins her new teaching job at a small private high school in Delaware, the same one she attended twenty five years earlier, old memories surface with a strength she never expected. It was while a student in book-clad walls of this campus, that she first discovered her passion for literature and language, and when she begins a tentative, nurturing relationship with an emotionally fragile student, Elizabeth finds herself thinking more and more about Theodore Dutton, the teacher who both greatly inspired her and failed her. While Elizabeth can clearly credit her passion for teaching and literature to Dutton's own passion, she has never been able to accept and forgive the one action she still believes was a betrayal. Worse, she continues to believe the school deliberately lied to the student body, and she and her closest friends are the only ones who know the truth, or at least a part of it.
Of course, I bonded with Elizabeth right away -- lover of books, teacher and all. Having never married, Elizabeth's single status is, of course, a matter of concern to her mother, but not majorly one for Elizabeth herself. There is a thread of romance to the story, but I like how it takes a back seat to Elizabeth's mentoring of troubled Satchel Queen and how the job at Seaton Prep brings back unsettled memories. As stated on the back jacket of the book, Tatlock has written a multi-layered story with memorable characters. This isn't a book whose characters throw out Bible verses
left and right, demanding readers to see their ideal faith. Instead Tatlock gives her characters a bigger question, "How do the individual know that God exists?" and you will need to read the book to know how Elizabeth and Theodore Dutton answer the question. The book also brings to mind the fact that teenagers, while on the brink of adulthood, are very impressionable; and the people they give hero status to have a great responsibility and influence, something that should not be taken lightly. People who enter the education or coaching field do not get to leave their job at the end of the day. If they choose to interact with kids and shape them, you don't get an off switch. All parts of your life may in some way be an influence.
This makes the fourth book by Ann Tatlock that I have reviewed. I really like the depth of her writing. When I read TRAVELERS' REST, it seemed familiar and I finally came to the conclusion that I had read the book several years ago. When I ordered EVERY SECRET THING from our library system, I also ordered THINGS WE ONCE HELD DEAR, which I started reading last night when I woke up at 3:00. (Yeah, I know I have sleep issues.) I am about 50 pages into the book and while I do not remember any part of the book, a forward by the author sounded so familiar that I felt I must have read the book. This morning I checked my trusty reading lists; the book published in 2006, so I began with that list and went forward. There it was on the early 2007 list. Now I have a corundum. I still do not remember the story, and I am somewhat interested now that I have read 50 pages. However, I have an endless stack of books, and more specifically have about 6 books that I need to read before the end of the month. What do I do??? I even checked GOODREADS reviews in hopes of igniting my memory, and now that I know more about the plot, I am even more curious as how the story progresses. Perhaps I will give the book a bit of attention this afternoon and then decide. If I am lucky, I will remember most of the story and can just skim.