Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: The Secrets Beneath

Hmm ... this is one of those books that kind of left me ... cold, dissatisfied, hanging, ... what?  I don't know ... something is missing.

The basic plot of The Secrets Beneath is that a very inquisitive 13-year-old Amish girl, a fan of Nancy Drew stories, begins to notice odd goings-on next door -- a house that has long remained vacant is suddenly the scene of odd late-night visits by a couple of different men.  Further, Bekah (the protagonist) and her family play host to a cousin who comes to stay for the school-year with little explanation.  Poor Bekah ... it's killing her that she doesn't know what's going on and she MUST find out.  And therein lies the plot ... an inquisitive girl who gets into trouble and dangerous situations because of her curiousity.  The story is basically a long allegory for the adage: curiousity killed the cat.

But what is it about this book that I don't like?

First, it's purportedly written for tweens/teens but you don't really know that until you get into the story a bit.  The girl on the cover art is wistfully young, but otherwise much of the tone of the book doesn't ring true for a tween/teen read.  The dangers in the book are a bit too-threatening and scary especially since they're so very possible -- I don't know if I'd want my kids reading this scary side of new neighbors!  The coming-of-age portions are a bit over the top ... most girls mature before boys so having the boy interested in the girl without her realizing it just doesn't seem realistic and seems a bit forced. 

Further, for some reason, the author has set the novel in the fictional town of Middlefield, Ohio that hosts an Amish community but is also filled with "yankees".   But the "Amish-ness" of the book is really an unnecessary hook -- Bekah and her family could be any religion as the Amish aspect really has nothing to do with the story.  It's very odd.  In addition, the author takes the time to explain the differences between the Ohio Amish and the Pennsylvania Amish (from whence Bekah's cousin hales) but the characters just don't seem "Amish".  It's like an add-on to sell the book.

This is the second book in a series "The Mysteries of Middlefield".  Now, I haven't read the first one and I don't think I'd read others.  Maybe Kathleen Fuller, the author, needs to stick with writing adult novels and not try and tap the tween/teen market. 

Unfortunately, this was a very unsatisfying read that I could only recommend if a teen was desperate for something to read and it was this or something horrendous, like Goosebumps!

Disclaimer:  I recieved this book as part of the Thomas Nelson review program, Book Sneeze.  The only requirement was that I read the book and post a review.  The above review is my honest reaction to this book.

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