I have had the opportunity to visit New Orleans twice – in November 2005 and February 2006 – as a part of two teams to help after the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita. So I have a special place in my heart for that unique city. When I discovered a book that I had the opportunity to review on a blog tour was partially set there, I knew I had to jump on the blog tour bus! The deal was sealed when I discovered there was a strong musical element to the story line as well. The book is 'The Rhythm of Secrets' by Patty Lacy.
Here is the synopsis of this multi-faceted and action-packed novel:
Sheila Franklin has masqueraded as the precocious daughter of avant-garde parents in colorful 1940s New Orleans, a teen desperate for love and acceptance, and an unwed mother sent North with her shame.
After marrying Edward, Sheila artfully masks her secrets, allowing Edward to gain prominence as a conservative pastor. When one phone call from a disillusioned Vietnam veteran destroys her cover, Sheila faces an impossible choice: save her son and his beloved…or imperil Edward’s ambitions.
Inspired by a true story, The Rhythm of Secrets intermingles jazz, classical, and sacred music in a symphony trumpeting God’s grace.
Here is the biography of this author:
Patti Lacy is a Baylor graduate who taught community college humanities until God called her to span seas and secrets in her novels, An Irishwoman's Tale and What the Bayou Saw. She has two grown children and a dog named Laura. She and her husband can be seen jog-walking the streets of Normal, Illinois, an amazing place to live for a woman born in a car. For more information, visit Patti's website, her blog, and her Facebook page.
Here is the book trailer for this amazing tale:
The story shifts back and forth between Sheba’s teen age years in the 1940s and early 1950s, and the year that she meets her long-lost son in the late 1960s. The storyline moves from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago to Bangkok, Thailand. This book is very detailed, taking us from the French Quarter in New Orleans to the streets of Chicago to the rice fields of Thailand. Clearly, Mrs. Lacy did a lot of research and her readers are the beneficiaries of her hard work.
Due to the legalism and judgmentalism that was deeply held by many of the Christ followers in this story, I was a little concerned that God’s grace would be quashed by them. Fortunately, that was not the case at the end. The ending clearly demonstrated that those who follow their Savior are protected by Him and lavished with His grace. That is not to say that they don’t have struggles in life – we all do – but He has a hedge of protection around those who live for Him.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Sheila sees Dr. Billy Graham speak at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. His preaching reached her sinner’s heart:
“You see, dear friends, it is not your sins the Father sees when you cast your trespasses on his only begotten Son. No matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, Jesus will take on your burdens. Jesus can wash you white as snow.”
He preached hope to one as stained as her? Tears gathered until the earnest, pleading face blurred. The hum of a new song rose from deep inside and began to drown out Dr. Graham’s Southern syllables. If he truly preached truth, Jesus offered a way to the righteous God. Jesus offered a refuge from her past. Jesus offered a safety that even her hallowed church walls did not possess.
Her head bowed. Tears plopped onto her Bible. (p. 251)
Music is also an important element in this book. Patti has compiled YouTube links to all of the songs for each chapter (each chapter is named after a song); you can check that out here.
This is the first novel by Ms. Lacy that I have read. I was mightily impressed by both her expertise in writing and her attention to detail. I learned so much from this book! And I was also impressed by how she did not gloss over the racism that was so prevalent in this country in the 1940s (and to a slightly lesser extent in the 1960s). It was amazing to see how an unwed mother was treated in the 1940s as well. The country has changed for the better in that regard.
The characters in this novel are so well developed. I was amazed at the changes that had taken place in Sheila (also known as Sheba and Sylvia) throughout her lifetime. Her husband, Edward, also grew and matured over the course of the story. And the unconditional love demonstrated by Sheila’s son, Samuel, to so many people in his life was inspirational. The fact that he could turn into such a fine young man after his difficult entry into this planet set my heart soaring.
I definitely plan on keeping my eye open for other novels by Ms. Lacy, and I thank her for writing such an amazing story, which is partially based on a true story (she was inspired by the life of Sandy Sperrazza – you can read the original story here). According to Ms. Lacy’s website, there will be more books featuring these characters, and I look forward to getting my hands on them!
You can order this book here.
This book is published by Kregel Publications. I am pleased to be participating in the blog tour with other bloggers via the Litfuse Group.