Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: The Rhythm of Secrets

Another LitFuse book tour!  This time, it is for The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy.

This is such a great book!  As hinted at in the title and the cover, music plays a pretty central role in the story, which I particularly enjoyed.  I'll give you the publisher's description:

"About the book: Since 1955, Sheila Franklin, a talented musician, has perfectly performed the role of devout pastor’s wife, locking away her past as Sheba Alexander and Sylvia Allen. Her carefully constructed façade crumbles with a single phone call from a young Marine named Samuel, the illegitimate son she secretly put up for adoption. Samuel begs Sheila to use her government contacts to get his fiancé, Mali, a Thai prostitute, into America. A dangerous mixture of love and guilt spurs her to help her only child even though it devastates her husband Edward and exposes her questionable past. After a quarrel with Edward, Sheila and Samuel board a C-130 for Thailand and then search Bangkok’s steamy streets for a Madonna-faced prostitute. The two whisk Mali from a brothel but are seized by a warlord who considers Mali his “number one girl.” In a teak “ghost house,” Sheila discovers God’s grace and gains the freedom she needs to find her own identity—Sheila, Sylvia, and Sheba. A framed story, this novel has roots in the bohemian 1940s New Orleans French Quarter and spans three decades, including the turbulent Vietnam era."

My take:  Okay, I had a tough time getting too far into the book. Knowing that Sheila had an illegitimate son sometime back in the 1940s before starting to read, and then reading the opening chapters where that son calls her and wants to meet her made some of the flashback story a little hard to do.  This isn't exactly a spoiler... when Sheila starts telling her story, she goes back to when she was nearly 14... and she ends up traipsing around New Orleans with a huge amount of money as she is out doing some collections for the local mafia.

I was totally NOT wanting to read about how she ended up raped and pregnant, or ended up in a brothel and pregnant... and I set the book down mid-chapter and didn't pick it up again for a few days.  I just could NOT go on.

So here is the non-spoiler part:  She returns from the collection run a little freaked out, but not physically harmed.  She's 18 before she ends up having that illegitimate child.  And maybe I should have been able to figure that part out for myself based on ages and dates given, I haven't gone back to reread it and see.

Once I got through that part though, I got totally sucked into the story and had a hard time putting the book down.  What I liked more than anything is that Lacy writes most of her significant characters in a way that makes me feel like I can see their point of view, and understand why they are doing what they do.

I expect to see Sheila's side of things.  Samuel, her son, is also central and you definitely get in his head.  But you also really get to understand so many of the other characters too -- Edward (Sheila's husband), Sheila's grandmother and parents, the nuns in St. Paul, and even her grandmother's lawyer.  Really, there are very few characters in the book who you end up loving to hate... the warlord in Thailand being the notable exception.  Even with some of the awful things that some of the other characters do in the story, knowing more of their backstory helps you to feel sorry for them while hoping that you wouldn't respond in such a hateful way in similar circumstances.

I really enjoyed this book.  It had a number of surprising twists and turns.  I'd have loved for more time to have been spent in St. Paul, but that's just me. 

Patti Lacy is celebrating the release of her latest book with a NOOK Giveaway, blog tour and Book Club Party! Follow the blog tour and read the reviews! Patti and her publisher, Kregel Publications, are giving away a NOOK prize package worth over $150 to one lucky winner!!!! 
Enter the Nook eReader Giveaway and you could win:
  • A brand new Nook eReader with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble
To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form/s, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on February 16th at Patti's Rhythm of Secrets Facebook Party.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Patti will be announcing the winner of The Rhythm of Secrets NOOK giveaway at her Party on Facebook  February 16th! 
She’ll be hosting a book club discussion of The Rhythm of Secrets and giving away other fun prizes! (signed copies of her books and gift certificates to Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, & iTunes!). Don’t miss the fun at Patti’s FB Author Page on February 16th at 5pm PST ( 6 pm MST, 7 pm CST, & 8 pm EST)!

Disclaimer:  I received this book through the LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   


Unknown said...

Me too! I didn't even want to request it almost, but I am so glad I did. I already bought her other two books for kindle for iphone app.

Patti Lacy said...

Debra, girl, you battled this book, didn't you:)

Thank you for investing your valuable time and emotions in the story.

Sandy Sperazza, the real-life Sylvia, also struggled reading "her" story because she said it brought back painful memories.

I LOVE your comment about St. Paul--an early crit. reader said the Home part was TOO LONG:)

Ah. The yin-yang of a writer's life.

Blessings to you,

Debra said...

Amy -- Love it! I'm putting the other two books on my list for about a month from now when I get to read what *I* want again!

Patti -- Oh, you are so sweet! But yes, I did really battle through the beginning of the book. I think it is a time of year thing. I get way more upset about child rape stories around February... and I was scared to go there.

As for St. Paul, what didn't make my final review is that about the same time that Sylvia was in a Catholic home for unwed mothers in St. Paul, my father and a couple of his cousins were in a Catholic "home" for polio victims across the river in Minneapolis. It just hit me as I was reading that some of these nuns could have "known" the nuns caring for my dad... I mean, I know your nuns are fictional and all... I guess I've never thought a lot about the people who were actually caring for them there. Your story made me do that.

Anyway, so the wanting longer in St. Paul is totally personal, I actually thought for the STORY that it was just about right.

Deanna said...

I am so glad you read this book too! I loved this book so much. Have you read Patti's other books?