"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!!!!
- A brand new Nook eReader with Wi-Fi
- $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble
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.