What secrets do you keep from people around you? In Ann Tatlock's book, Promises to Keep, Tatlock writes a simple, but poignant story about lives crossed in secrets. Told through the eyes of young Rosalind Anthony, who is working to unfold her own life, walks the reader through the lives of her family on the run from an abusive father and husband to her mother. Roz, who she is affectionately nicknamed, seeks to understand who she is in a coming of age story where innocence is lost through the promises that are broken in her life.
A simple story told very well. This is thoughtfully written and worth the time in reading.
Bethany House Publisher provided this book for free as a part of their blogger book review.
I thought this was a pretty good book. It was a little slow moving to me, but I tend to like the suspense-filled books the most. The story line was good, but I could sense the ending very early on. The early part of the book where the family meets Tillie was probably the best part of the book if you ask me. I'm pretty sure I'd have been a little shocked if a random old lady showed up on my porch one morning! If you don't mind the slow progression of the story, this is a good book to read, but if you're like me and like suspense - you may want to skip this one!
Promises to Keep, written by Ann Tatlock, is a story about a preteen girl, Roz, and her life after moving to a new town. Once in the town of fictional Mills River, IL, her family discovers they have a new house guest, Tillie, a rather eccentric, but wise 70 year old woman, who also, in my opinion, happens to be the best thing the family encounters.
I enjoyed the book, however, I felt like it was a slow read up until half way through. The book has 47 chapters, but is 345 pages long, so you can see that the chapters are short. This I viewed as a disadvantage because I would read only one chapter at a time, and be OK with that. I didn't feel like there was enough of a pull to make me read the next chapter in the same sitting. However, it could be an advantage for someone who doesn't have a lot of time on their hands and wants a book that they can read a chapter in five minutes. If you have the patience to make it through the first half, the second half is well worth it. I flew through the final chapters on the book. Although it was rather predictable, there was still the desire to see what would happen, and yes, some surprises!
The characters in the novel are complex, yet likable (well, at least most of them!) Ms. Tatlock did a wonderful job of developing the characters, and the different stories they all told in one novel.
Although the story is a drama, there is some humor and light-hearted moments as well, which is appreciated and frankly, needed, because the topics in the book are rather deep and complex.
All in all, my review of the book is average. There are elements I liked (the characters), but others I could do without (disliked the short chapters!) I may read more of Ms. Tatlock's work in the future if her books come across my path, but I won't go out of my way to.
**I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**
Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock is different than much of the fiction that I've read recently. It's what I would call "literature." I think the back of the book calls it "contemporary fiction." In other words ... it's not simply a romance ... there's a bit more going on.
The story is told from the perspective of 11-year-old Roz Anthony. She and her family have just moved to Illinois to get away from her father, whom she misses very much. She doesn't understand why they had to leave her father and desperately wants him to be part of their family again. She befriends another girl in her class who has her own "daddy issues" and they become fast friends. Many other "minor" plot lines weave in and out of this "main" story and enhance what Roz is going through.
A few times I wished that the author would speed through a particular conversation or scene to get to another point, but for the most part the story flows really well. Also as likeable as Tillie (Roz's surrogate grandmother) is, Roz's mom got on my nerves for most of the book. I felt like she should just wake up and snap out of it! But ... the author's rendition of this character is probably a little more true-to-life than my wishful thinking. I also felt that the blurb on the back of the book was a bit misleading. I picked up the book thinking it would be suspenseful and somewhat action-packed, but that was certainly not the case.
Overall, I felt like this was a well written and enjoyable novel.
Janis Anthony decides to leave her abusive husband, Alan, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, taking their three children, Wally, Rosalind (Roz) and Valerie along. With the help of her father (Grandpa Lehman), they purchase a home in Mills River, Illinois.
Within a few days of settling in, Tillie Monroe, the former owner of the house, appears on their porch, reading their Sunday paper. She explains that she and her husband built this house, raised their family there, and that she has every intention of dying in â€˜her' house, as did her husband. Though Tillie's son continues to return her to the old folks' home, she ends up back at â€˜her' house. Soon she ends up living there, and she turns out to be a blessing in disguise in more ways than one. In fact, you, too, will come to love and appreciate Tillie and her love and wisdom.
For those who grew up in a family with a mother and father, you will learn from Ann Tatlock's book, Promises to Keep, the hardships of being in a single-parent family. Some of the challenges include a teenager who's angry at life and wants to move on, the audacity of a mother dating someone other than daddy, the shenanigans pulled on that other someone, handling disciplinary problems alone, and the challenges of making ends meet on a mother's salary.
One can hear about these issues, but it's another to experience them through the eyes of a young girl who is living it all first-hand. This story is told from Roz's point-of-view, and you become privy to her special heartaches, desires and secrets. Ann does a great job of bringing out characters that are so true-to-life, while at the same time tugging on your heartstrings at the broken hearts, fears, anger, and loneliness. It's Roz's close friendship with Mara that helps her through some of the tough times. They both love and miss their daddies, and make a â€˜daddy wish' pinky prayer promise, with a solemn promise to keep their secrets hidden.
Unbeknownst to Janis, Alan Anthony has also moved to Mills River, but keeps himself hidden from all but Roz, who aches to have her daddy back, if he keeps his promises to change. You'll witness the unfair manipulations of a desperate dad who takes advantage of a very vulnerable girl who trusts him to make them a family again. Through the prayers of Tillie, we are privileged to see God turn the whole situation around.
The slower life of Mills River is a quiet respite after life in the city of Minneapolis. Having experienced both, I really enjoyed the lifestyle differences portrayed by Ann.
I won't easily forget this book, now knowing more deeply the pains of losing a mother or father to divorce, and the deep desire of many of the children who want to see them reunite. The whole book is gently, yet decisively, written to keep your interest.
This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. No monetary value was exchanged.