Summary: Every family--and every house--has its secrets.
Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her great-aunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family manse in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Jo-Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. And it's the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her self-absorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends.
Beneath the dust and the peeling wallpaper, things are not what they seem, and what Jo-Lynn doesn't know about her family holds just as many surprises. Was her great-grandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will her own marriage survive the renovation?
Jo-Lynn isn't sure she wants to know the truth--but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known. -- Revell
One of my unwritten reading goals this year is to read more Christian fiction. I have only read a few books from this genre over the last few years, but I always seem to enjoy them. I find it so refreshing to pick up a book that I know is going to be a nice, clean read -- one that I can pass on to my mother without being worried about her reaction. THINGS LEFT UNSPOKEN by Eva Marie Everson was a very entertaining book that I will definitely be sharing with my mom (and a few other people.)
I thoroughly enjoyed THINGS LEFT UNSPOKEN. I admit that it did take me a little while to really get into the story and the characters; but once I became involved in their lives, I was hooked. I liked the present day story of Jo-Lynn and her troubles, but I also enjoyed the flashback chapters which provided the important background information about her relatives. I thought the author did a great job of engaging the reader, and I really appreciated how the story unfolded -- I found the mystery angles of this story to be very entertaining too. I liked that the author made me feel as if I was discovering things about Jo-Lynn and her family along with Jo-Lynn; and I loved that there were a few surprises thrown in.
And while THINGS LEFT UNSPOKEN is considered Christian fiction, I didn't think that the spirituality aspect of the book was at all heavy-handed. There were references to church and sermons; however, it wasn't until the end of the story where I really felt as if Jo-Lynn had experienced a spiritual change. I thought the author did a nice job of showing how Jo-Lynn arrived at her conclusions about her faith without hitting the reader over the head and sounding preachy. It was just one of those books that you felt good when you finished reading it.
One thing that I found interesting about this book is that the house that Jo-Lynn is renovating is actually based on the author's great-grandparents home. The author did a fabulous job of describing the house and bringing it to life; and it became almost another character in this book. I loved reading about the old house and its secrets as well as the town and its people. It was evident to me that the author was writing about things which were very near and dear to her heart.
There were many things that I appreciated about this story, but I think what I enjoyed most were the characters. I liked Jo-Lynn and I could definitely understand her personal struggles about her marriage, motherhood and her career. It was wonderful to share in her discoveries about not only her family and its secrets, but also to share in her discoveries about herself and what would make her happy. I also liked so many of the secondary characters including Jo-Lynn's relatives (especially the ornery Aunt Stella and the sweet Mae-Jo), Mr. Valentine, and her new friend Karol (with a K.) It seemed like everyone that Jo-Lynn encountered taught her something either about herself or her family. I thought the cast of characters were all very special and each one added something to this story.
If your book club is interested in reading Christian fiction, then I definitely suggest THINGS LEFT UNSPOKEN. I think there is a great deal to discuss about the characters and their actions. There is also a reading guide available which has twelve interesting questions and was written by the author. I think there are some terrific questions that will certainly make you think. Some of the themes in this book which I feel are discussion-worthy include: secrets, honesty, spiritual growth, marriage, sacrifices, and parenthood. I have no doubt that you could talk about the characters' behavior, especially Jo-Lynn's actions, for hours!
Thanks to Donna from Baker Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this book.