Promises to Keepby Ann Tatlock
Eleven-year-old Roz (Rosalind) Anthony and her family have just moved to Mills River, Illinois, to escape an abusive situation. Only days after settling into their new home, they are surprised to find the previous owner, Tillie Monroe, on their front porch reading the newspaper. Though her sons have sold the house and sent her to a facility for the aged, she is determined to die in the place she lived her life, and somehow manages to find her way "home" day after day. Feeling sympathy for the elderly woman, Roz's mother allows Tillie to move back in.
Mara Nightingale becomes Roz's first friend in Mills River. In spite of their many differences, the girls discover they have something in common that binds them together--both are hiding secrets. So they make a promise--"cross my heart and hope to die"--never to tell anyone else.
When danger stalks the Anthonys, Tillie exhibits unimaginable courage and selfless love in her determination to protect the family she has adopted as her own.
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Promises To Keep
By Ann Tatlock
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2011 Ann Tatlock
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWe hadn't lived in the house on McDowell Street for even a week when we found a stranger on the porch, reading the morning paper. Wally saw her first, since it was his job to fetch the newspaper from the low-lying branches of the blue spruce, where the paper boy always tossed it. I was in the kitchen setting the table, and from there I could see Wally—tall and lanky and bare-chested in the summer heat—move down the hall toward the front door. He was grumbling about the rain as the soles of his feet slapped against the hardwood floor. He reached for the doorknob, then stopped abruptly. In the next moment he hollered back toward the kitchen, "Mom, there's an old lady out on the porch."
Mom was frying bacon at the stove. She jabbed at the sizzling pan with a spatula and hollered back, "What's she want? Is she selling something?"
"I don't think so," Wally said. "She's just sitting there reading the paper."
"Well, yeah. I think it's our paper."
"What now?" Mom muttered as she moved the frying pan off the burner and untied her apron. When she turned around, I saw the flash of fear in her eyes. It was a look I was used to; it showed up on Mom's face whenever she didn't know what was coming next, which happened a lot in our old house in Minnesota. But not because of strangers.
Mom laid the apron over a chair, smoothed back her blond hair, and ran the palms of her hands over the wrinkles in her housedress. At the same time she tried to smooth the wrinkles in her brow enough to look confident. I followed her from the kitchen to the front door, where Wally stood so close to the window the tip of his nose touched the glass. "Can you believe it?" he said quietly. "She's just sitting there like she owns the place or something."
Mom raised one hand to her lips in quiet hesitation. Meanwhile, I slipped to the living room window and peered out from behind the curtain, finding myself only inches from our uninvited guest. At first glance she was one huge floral-print dress straining the straps of the folding lawn chair on the porch. Her legs were propped up on the railing, and her bulky black tie shoes dangled like dead weight over the lilac bush below. I couldn't see much of her face, just a small slice of fleshy cheek and the bulbous end of a generous nose, a pair of gray-rimmed glasses and a mass of white hair knotted at the back of her head. She was reading the Sunday comics, and something must have tickled her because she laughed out loud.
That howl of glee sent enough of a jolt through Mom to get her going. She gently pulled Wally away from the door and swung it open. She pushed open the screen door and stepped outside. I saw the old woman's head bob once, as though to acknowledge Mom's presence.
"Can I help you?" Mom asked. Her voice was strained, the way it sounded when she was trying not to yell at one of us kids. She waited a few seconds. Then, a little more exasperated, she repeated, "Can I help you with something?"
The stranger folded the paper and settled it in her lap. "No, dear, I don't think so." The corner of her mouth turned up in a small smile. "But thank you just the same."
Mom stiffened at that, and all her features seemed to move toward the center of her face. "Well," she said, "may I ask what you're doing on my porch?"
"Just sitting awhile," the old woman said, as though she'd been found passing the time of day on a public bench. "Anyway," she went on, "it's not your porch. It's mine."
"Uh-oh," Wally whispered in my direction. "She's one of those crazies. You'd better go keep an eye on Valerie."
But I didn't want to go keep an eye on Valerie. I wanted to stay right where I was and watch Mom talk with the crazy lady.
Mom looked off toward the street like she was hoping someone would walk by and help her, but it was early Sunday morning and the streets were quiet, save for one lone soot-colored cat slinking along the sidewalk in the misty rain.
Finally Mom turned back to the stranger and said, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave, and if you don't, I will call the police."
The old lady pulled her feet off the railing, and I thought maybe she was going to stand up and leave, but she didn't. Instead, she said quietly, "Well now, I wish you wouldn't do that."
"You don't give me any choice. You're trespassing on private property."
"I might say the same for you."
Mom's eyes widened. "What do you mean by that?"
"The law might say you own this house, but it'll always be mine."
"Mom," Wally hollered though the screen, "you want me to call the cops?"
Mom latched her hands together at her waist and squeezed her fingers together. "Not yet, Wally. Just hold on." To the woman, she said, "I want to give you the chance to leave peacefully."
The old woman wasn't looking at Mom anymore. Now she was looking out at the street, but I had the feeling she wasn't seeing the street but something else altogether.
When she spoke, her voice was low and even. "My husband built this house for me in 1917. Built it with his own hands. And you see these two hands here?"
The woman held up her hands, large as any man's. Mom nodded reluctantly.
"These hands helped him. I laid flooring, plastered tile, painted the rooms, hung wallpaper. We built this place together, Ross and I."
A small muscle worked in Mom's jaw. "I see."
"I came here as a bride, twenty years old. Had my babies here. Lived here all my married life. Watched my husband die in our bedroom upstairs."
"Oh, great," Wally said, glancing at me. "Some old guy croaked upstairs."
Though he said it loud enough for the woman to hear, she ignored him and kept on talking. "My heart is in every piece of wood and every nail. For that matter, so is my sweat. I believe they call that sweat equity. There's so much of me in this house, you'll never get it out. You might live here now, but this house—it'll always belong to me."
Mom was chewing her lower lip by now, and her eyes were small. Her knuckles had turned white because she was squeezing her hands together so hard. I knew exactly what she was thinking. I knew she was thinking about our old life in Minneapolis and how this place in Mills River, Illinois, was our new life, and she may have even been thinking of those words she said to me that first night after we moved in: "We're safe now, Roz. We don't have to be afraid anymore." She had worked and planned for a long time, until finally, with the help of her father, Grandpa Lehman, she'd got us out of Minnesota and away from Daddy. And now, only days into our new life, some crazy woman showed up making trouble.
"I lived here fifty years," she went on. "Fifty years this place was mine until I slipped on some ice last January and broke my hip. I landed in the hospital, and while I was down and out, the boys saw their chance. Maybe not Lyle so much, but Johnny and Paul ..."
She shook her head. "Those rascals saw their chance. I told Ross to leave the house to me alone and not divide it up four ways between me and the boys, because I knew what they'd do with it eventually. Soon as Ross died they started talking about selling the place, saying I shouldn't be living here by myself. My falling on the ice seemed to prove their point, and from the hospital I was taken to—"
Her sentence hung unfinished as she pulled herself up from the chair. The newspaper dropped from her lap to the porch. Both she and Mom stared out at the street as a Pontiac station wagon—brown with a white roof, wings reaching back toward the taillights— coasted up to the front of the house and parked. A short stocky man in a raincoat and fedora stepped out of the car and made his way up the sidewalk. "I thought I'd find you here, Mother," he said, approaching the porch steps.
"What'd you expect, Johnny?" She drew herself up straighter and lifted her chin.
"This is my home. Where else should I be?"
"This isn't your home anymore," he said, coming right up onto the porch. He looked at Mom and took off his wet hat in a gesture of respect. "Beg your pardon, ma'am," he said. "I'm very sorry about this. I've come to take Mother back to the home."
"The home?" Mom asked.
"St. Claire's Home for the Aged."
"I'm sorry, I— We're new in town. I—"
"I don't belong in any nursing home," the old woman yelled, taking a step backward. "My hip has healed, and I'm as strong as I've ever been."
The man held out his hand. "Now, Mother—"
"You defied me, Johnny Monroe. My last wish was to die in this house—"
"Now, Mother, don't make trouble. We did what we thought was best—"
"And I aim to die in this house, whether you like it or not!"
"Oh, great," Wally said again with another glance at me. I shivered.
The man turned back to Mom. "I'm very sorry," he repeated. "I'll see to it this doesn't happen again. Come on, Mother. Let's go without making a scene."
"No one was making a scene until you came along," the old woman said.
Mom stepped to the door and nodded toward me. "Roz, go get Valerie out of her crib. Take her to the kitchen and give her some cereal."
For the first time I realized Valerie was crying and had probably been crying for several minutes. But I didn't go to her. I couldn't take my eyes off the old woman and her son. One moment they were exchanging heated words and the next he had his arm around her shoulder and she was allowing him to lead her toward the porch steps.
Mom, to my surprise, unlaced her fingers and laid one hand gently on the old woman's arm. "Wait," she said.
The two strangers stopped and looked at Mom expectantly. "I—" Mom shook her head. She looked flustered. "What's your name?"
The old woman's eyes seemed to travel all over Mom's face, looking for a place to rest. Finally she said, "My name is Tillie Monroe." She said it with dignity, as though the name itself commanded respect.
Mom nodded slightly. "Well, Mrs. Monroe, I-I'm very sorry. Really I am."
For a moment no one spoke. The old woman's lips trembled, but she didn't have any words for Mom in response. Then Johnny Monroe lifted his hat once again, bid
Mom a good day, and led Tillie Monroe down the steps.
Mom, Wally, and I watched as the two of them walked together in the drizzling rain toward the car.
Mom stepped into the house, shut the door, and locked it. She looked at Wally and then at me. For some reason Valerie had stopped crying, and the house was quiet. "Well," Mom said, "it's a shame, but I'm sure her children knew what they were doing when they put her in the home. I don't think this will happen again. Let's go eat breakfast. Roz, go get Val up and get her ready to eat."
Wally looked out the window. "You still want the paper, Mom?" From where we stood, we could see that a gust of wind had picked it up and scattered it in wet clumps across the yard.
"I guess we can do without the paper today," she said. "Never much good news anyway, is there?" She offered Wally a tiny smile and moved down the hall to the kitchen.
I lingered a moment and watched as the station wagon pulled away from the curb. The strange woman's profile was framed in the passenger window, and for a moment I almost felt sorry for the old lady who was being hauled back to the home against her will. It seemed a sad way to finish up a life.
"Roz," Mom called from the kitchen, "I'm waiting on you to get Valerie. Breakfast is ready."
"Can you believe our luck?" Wally said as he ambled down the hallway, his fists thrust deep in the pockets of his shorts. "We move into the one house in town where some crazy old lady wants to come and die."
"Never mind, Wally," Mom said. "She's gone now, and I'm sure the nursing home will take extra precautions so she doesn't get out again."
Extra precautions or no, I had a feeling we hadn't seen the last of Tillie Monroe.
Excerpted from Promises To Keep by Ann Tatlock Copyright © 2011 by Ann Tatlock. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy Award-winning novel All the Way Home. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon. Ann lives with her husband, Bob, and their daughter, Laura Jane, in Asheville, North Carolina.
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I read this book for a book discussion. Finished it with a week to spare which is unusual for me. But I enjoyed it so much it was an easy read for me. Then book discussion was canceled! Ms. Tatlock is a wonderful story teller. Her writing flows easily and your interest is kept and satisfied. Great story!
A story about lies, the truth, family, and God's unexpected provision for needs yet unknown.
I really enjoyed this story. I think it brings an interesting perspective on a couple of different issues. First, that even in the 60's, there was domestic abuse affecting families. And secondly, how that dysfunction is perceived by the younger members of the family. War, trust, parental love...all included here. Roz tries to juggle her feelings about the changes in her family. She finds an ally in her friend Mara who has her own secrets and wishes. I wanted everything to be happy for them again, because isn't that what we all want? Children are resilient but not unaffected by the behavior of the parents. This story reminded me of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, another book I loved. I was very happy to have happened to find this book, would definitely recommend it.
Ann Tatlock's book "Promises to Keep" uses the voice of an eleven year old girl to tell the story of a family's life in the 1960s. Her writing style is reminiscent of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and is very engaging. Roz Anthony is a young girl with who deeply craves the love and attention of her father. Her best friend, Mara, is a young black girl who struggles with similar problems. The two friends make a "cross your heart and hope to die" promise to keep each other's secrets. These secrets could very easily put Roz in danger and could be life changing for both girls. Janis, the mother of 3 children. moves to the idyllic town of Mills River seeking safety and security for her children. When she begins work to support her family, she is in need of someone to help watch her children. Janis, much like her daughter Roz, is seeking security and is willing to sacrifice love to feel safe. Tillie is found on the Anthony family's front porch claiming that the house is hers. She claims that ownership is a matter of the sweat, years and love a person pours into a house. She and her husband had built and lived in the house long before the Anthonys had moved to town and resents her sons for selling her home. Before long, Tillie has worked her way into the family's lives and could very well be an answer to prayer as she steps in to help Janis with the children. The oldest son, Wally is filled with anger over the treatment he received from his step-father. At the age of 17 he looks forward to being old enough to enlist and join the fight in Vietnam. Wally's father was a war hero, and he desires to follow in his father's footsteps. All of these characters, and more, build an awe-inspiring story of trust, love and courage. I've already read the book twice and highly recommend it. I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishing Group for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, part 255.
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 'her' house, as did her husband. Though Tillie's son continues to return her to the old folks' home, she ends up back at '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 '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.
This is a really sweet story. The author brings the characters alive and real. As I read I felt as if I were there, in the heat, and then through the winter months, the freezing wind. I could imagine being a classmate of Miss Anthony. I loved the sense of home that I felt. This book is about a lost (or almost lost) time in history - a time of history I sometimes wish we could go back to again. A sweet story, with a happy ending. disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
This was a very good book. Interesting and heart-warming story. I look forward to reading other stories by Ann Tatlock. Refreshing. No raunchy materials found in this!
First time reading Ann Tatlock and was excellent story. Could not put the book down until finished.
The world is confusing to little Roz. Her mom has moved their family away from her violent, alcoholic dad. Her mom is sad, scared and lonely. Her older brother is angry, while their little sister is just a baby. Soon another twist is thrown in as Tillie, an old lady, shows up at their home claiming to own it. Who can Roz trust? Will her father change? Will their family ever be all together again? Who is Tillie? I wasn't sure if I could identify with the main character in this story, since it's told through the eyes of an 11 year old. However, I wasn't too far in Promises to Keep before my heart broke for Roz and her family. I felt her hope and her confusion. Now Tillie - what a wonderful character! I need a Tillie in my life! This drama was very emotional and very real. covering both the good and bad of their lives. This is my first book by Ann Tatlock to read, but it will not be my last! "Sometimes it's the dream that holds you down and keeps you from flying, if it's the wrong dream. You have to let it go if you're ever going to soar." Disclosure: I received book free from Bethany House Book Reviewers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I received a copy of PROMISES TO KEEP by Ann Tatlock, from Bethany House. The cover is unique, an image of the back of a girl's head, her neck bared by two braids. On the back of the book is the picture of a house. That image fits the story perfectly, for it's the tale of a house and a family, the home important enough to be its own character. The story is told by Roz, short for Rosalind. She is eleven-years-old and trying to come to terms with her parents' separation. Her father, Alan Anthony, is vicious. He drinks a lot and beats her mother. He even tries to kill her brother once. Sometimes, when the whole family was in the car together, he would drive recklessly and threaten to crash if anyone cried out. Roz's mother has had enough of Alan - she packed up the kids and moved to her father's town. She feels sad and helpless, and struggles to provide for her family. This house is not just any house. It used to belong to Tillie Monroe. She and her husband built it, and raised their children in it, and she's not about to be put away into a nursing home. She wants to die in her beloved home, so she convinces Roz's mother to allow her to live with them. While Roz's mother works, Tillie looks after the chores and the children, Roz and her baby sister Valerie. Tillie helps the family build a new life for them. Roz still wants her daddy though, so when Alan meets her secretly, she's excited, and wants to help him back into their lives - even though he steals, lies, still drinks, and eventually tries to shoot them. I couldn't put the story down. The characters are not only believable, they are likable. The writing is smooth, and there were only two predictable moments - Roz's mother married Tillie's son and Roz's father turned out to be thoroughly "bad guy." I feel like I could go to the town and meet everyone, even though the story took place during the Vietnam War. The wide range of characters ensure that there will be someone to relate to, whether it is Wally, the young man who decides to take out his anger on Alan by joining the army, or Roz's best friend Mara, who suffers with prejudice.
Told from eleven year old Roz's perspective, she along with her Mom Janis, brother Wally, and sister Valarie leave MN and move to IL. They no sooner move into their new home in Mills River when Tillie Monroe shows up on their front porch...reading their paper! They must have thought they had a real nut on their hands. Love the lessons Tillie is able to teach this family, guess the Lord knew what he was doing when he brought her there! The friendship between Roz and Mara will make you chuckle...can just picture the two of them placing the screaming Valarie on Mom's friend! Am so glad they were able to find one another...pinky sware, and Promises to Keep are sometimes dangerous as Roz finds out the hard way. This book does have spousal abuse, drug abuse, and the Vietnam War. Roz experiences some flashbacks of her life in Minnesota, but isn't sure about them. Just like most children she wants her Dad back in the family. I really enjoyed that this book has an Epilogue, love finding out the finishing parts of lives. Thank you Ann! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Promises to Keep is family drama at its best. From page one, the exquisitely written characters wind their way into your heart and mind, until you become a member of the family. I revisited my girlhood with Roz and Mara, linking little fingers in "pinky promises" and shared secrets. Told from eleven-year-old Roz's perspective, the complexity of emotion is deep as she struggles to understand family dynamics. Tillie is a story unto herself. To say she's a character is an understatement. She's a hoot, adds some gentle humor to the saga, and is the kind of character all writers love to discover. Ann Tatlock is a master storyteller, one of the best, and in Promises to Keep, she outdid even herself. Janis Anthony and her children Wally, Roz and Valerie leave their home in Minnesota and move to the town of Mills River with the hope of a new start away from an abusive situation. Janis has the promise of a job working in her stepmothers department store, and along with that job Janis' father has secured a house for them on McDowell Street. After living in the house for less than a week, they find an elderly lady sitting on the porch reading the Sunday paper. Turns out that lady is Tillie Monroe, whose only hope is to "die"in the home she and her husband built. Tillie moves in and soon becomes a member of the family. Meanwhile Roz makes her first friend Mara Nightingale, who has a complicated family life, which includes a secret about her father. The girls decide to make a Daddy Deal, where they pray daily that they will each be reunited with their father. Roz thinks her prayers just might be answered when she finds out that her father is in town, he tells her that he has plans to come home, but makes her swear not to tell anyone that he is even in town. Mara is sure that Roz needs to tell her mother, but Roz wants her family together, and holds onto the hope that her father has really changed! Ann Tatlock is a new to me author, whose writing style draws you into the story immediately. As the story unfolded I actually felt like I was a part of the family that I was reading about. As the story unfolds thru the eyes of eleven year old Roz, I found myself hoping right along with Roz that her father really had changed.Roz's friend Mara was quite like able as well, and because they had quite a bit in common, I enjoyed seeing her story unfold as well. My favorite character had to be Tillie Monroe! A seventy year old who has an unwavering faith in God, and is just what the Anthony's need. She easily reminds us that it isn't always blood ties that make a family. This is such a good book that I hate to give away any more of the plot. Too often, I find that books of this type are so formulaic. They're enjoyable to read, but it's easy to predict the ending. In this case, the plot was riveting, and the ending stunning and surprising. I went to bed thinking of the characters -- they were so well-developed that they seemed like real people -- indeed, friends -- to me. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Janis Anthony and her children Wally, Roz and Valerie leave their home in Minnesota and move to the town of Mills River with the hope of a new start away from an abusive situation. Janis has the promise of a job working in her stepmothers department store, and along with that job Janis' father has secured a house for them on McDowell Street. After living in the house for less than a week, they find an elderly lady sitting on the porch reading the Sunday paper. Turns out that lady is Tillie Monroe, whose only hope is to "die"in the home she and her husband built. Tillie moves in and soon becomes a member of the family. Meanwhile Roz makes her first friend Mara Nightingale, who has a complicated family life, which includes a secret about her father. The girls decide to make a Daddy Deal, where they pray daily that they will each be reunited with their father. Roz thinks her prayers just might be answered when she finds out that her father is in town, he tells her that he has plans to come home, but makes her swear not to tell anyone that he is even in town. Mara is sure that Roz needs to tell her mother, but Roz wants her family together, and holds onto the hope that her father has really changed! Ann Tatlock is a new to me author, whose writing style draws you into the story immediately. As the story unfolded I actually felt like I was a part of the family that I was reading about. As the story unfolds thru the eyes of eleven year old Roz, I found myself hoping right along with Roz that her father really had changed.Roz's friend Mara was quite like able as well, and because they had quite a bit in common, I enjoyed seeing her story unfold as well. My favorite character had to be Tillie Monroe! A seventy year old who has an unwavering faith in God, and is just what the Anthony's need. She easily reminds us that it isn't always blood ties that make a family. A family drama that readers will enjoy, but anyone looking for a good clean story with unforgettable characters should also check out this story, you won't regret it! I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I always enjoy picking up an Ann Tatlock novel, because they are so easy to get lost in. I become completely immersed in the story and feel like I am right there with the characters. Promises To Keep was no different and I enjoyed every page. This book is a heart-warming story that tugs at your emotions as you travel along with Janis Anthony, a woman running from her abusive husband and trying to protect her children. Moving to the quiet little town of Mills River, Illinois to be near her father, Janis attempts to start over and offer as normal of a life as possible for her children. Hard as she tries to forget the past, Janis can't truly find rest because she's always looking over her shoulder fearful that her husband might find them. Readers are introduced to wonderful characters who round out the plot as issues of alcoholism, domestic abuse, racial tensions, coming of age and the aging are touched upon. This story takes place in the late 1960's and I found myself transported back to a time that was full of both innocence and turbulence. I did not want to put this book down or have the story end and many times while reading, I found myself holding my breath waiting to see what would happen. The story is captivating and definitely grabs the reader's attention. I adored Tillie Monroe, the sweet elderly woman who I couldn't help but fall in love with in spite of the abrupt manner in which she enters the lives of the Anthony family. At the end of the book I kept thinking that everyone should be so blessed as to have a "Tillie Monroe" drop unannounced into their life. I have long had Ann Tatlock on my list of favorite authors and this book is just another flawless example of why I love her writing so much. Ann writes to the heart and soul of her readers, pulling them into complex stories rich with emotion and drama. Every book of Ann's that I read ends up becoming my "favorite". Her stories resonate with me long after the book is finished. If you haven't had the joy of discovering this author, I highly recommend starting with Promises To Keep.
Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock is a family drama with heart-stopping suspense. In 1967 Roz Anthony's mother, Janis, has moved with her children, seventeen-year-old Wally and two-year-old Valerie from their home in Minnesota to make a new start in Mills River, Illinois. Roz understands why her mother needed to get away from her father's drunken abuse, but being just eleven, she still wants her daddy. She meets Mara at school, a girl who is ostracized because of the color of her skin and who has her own secret about her father. The two girls bond and promise to pray that each will be united with her daddy. Added to the family drama is Tillie, who keeps turning up on the Anthony's front porch insisting that she is going to die in their house, the one she built with sweat and love with her husband before her sons sold it and sent her to a nursing home. Tillie becomes an answer to prayer when Janis needs a baby-sitter for the girls, but her presence is one more thorn in Wally's side until he just can't take anymore. Roz's prayers seem to be answered when her father shows up with a promise that he will make everything right, but Mara isn't so sure, and it puts their friendship to the test. Tatlock is a master of writing compelling, heart-breaking family drama while really getting into the heads of her characters. Readers will ache for Roz as her mother dismisses her missing her father again and again by telling her to simply forget him and move on. Janis' refusal to talk with Roz opens the entire family to tragedy, while Roz's refusal to trust her mother could just destroy them all. Through Roz's eyes, the world is a scary changeable place, and Tatlock w
Set in the 1960's this story explores friendship and family through the eyes of an 11 year old. Roz wants her family to be reunited, her friend, Mara yearns to meet her father. How the girls struggle to make their dreams a reality and what they learn is a story to be reread.
Good read with good story line . Want more from this author