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Includes Book Club Discussion Guide
Propelled by an insurmountable sense of desperation, Stevie Burke is recklessly abandoning home, husband, and outwardly contented life under cover of night; at last resigned to defeat in her ...
Includes Book Club Discussion Guide
Propelled by an insurmountable sense of desperation, Stevie Burke is recklessly abandoning home, husband, and outwardly contented life under cover of night; at last resigned to defeat in her long battle against the tortured memories of the past.
Days later, lost and floundering in a dreary motel room without plan or destination, it is a long ago song playing on the radio that gently tugs Stevie back through the dust of remembrance. 1957 - The last summer spent at the ancient house overlooking the North Atlantic. A season which had unfolded with abundant promise, but then spiraled horribly out of control - torn apart by a shattering tragedy that leaves a family impossibly broken ...
"This is a coming-of-age story at its best."
"It was as if I could smell the sea air as the words unfolded from the page and danced around me. It was really breathtaking."
"An impressive and detailed story of love, loss, and betrayal ... "
"An amazingly accurate account of how many lives can be affected by one single moment in time, and how long the repercussions can last."
"The imagery and character depths capture the reader by both hands with the author not letting go, even at the very end."
"I recommend this book for anyone who appreciates the beauty of the written word and a story well-told."
Posted November 4, 2013
This story starts with Stevie leaving her husband to go fight the demons from her past. Then we jump to the summers of her youth. Stevie and her sister Eleanor live on a farm. But in the summer, they go visit their aunt and uncle on the beach. But when Eleanor is 17 and Stevie is 15 tragedy strikes and changes everything. Now Stevie is trying to face the demons from her past so she can get on with her life.
I have to say that I felt that the writing style was a touch jerky. We start out with Stevie leaving her husband to get her life in order. Then we jump to when she was younger and spending summers with her sister Eleanor, aunt, and uncle. Then you jump around some more. It was a little hard to follow the flow of the book.
There were many little things that were left hanging out there and a lot of stuff that was so over described that I lost interest. I feel like I should feel bad about Stevie and what she went through, but I don’t like her character at anytime, and can’t really get connected enough to care.
I think there is potential with the story. It is sad how little lies that are told can destroy everything. But in this case I think it would have been a better story if it was shortened, edited, and stuck to the point. I honestly had a hard time sticking to the end of the book and ended up skimming pages.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Posted February 10, 2012
Stephanie and her sister Eleanor leaves their families farm for the summer to vacation at their Aunt and Uncle's beach house. This is something they look forward to every year. But recently the visits have become a little tense because of an under current between her Aunt Smyrna and Uncle Cal. Stevie just tries to overlook the tension and enjoy the summer. As the girls get into their teens they become more interested in boys than finding sea shells and swimming. Eleanor is the oldest so she would stay pretty busy with her summer flings leaving Stevie to entertain herself. Then Stephanie becomes very interested in a young boy on the that is deaf. She convinces her sister and aunt to get a book from the library and learn how to sign so they can befriend the boy.
Each summer they come to stay things just get worse between the aunt and uncle. This makes their time there very uncomfortable.
The teens characters were very realistic with their attitudes and relationship toward each other.
I got a bit anxious towards the last half of the book and did not want to put it down. I think you will be very surprised at how it ends, I know I was.
I recommend this book!
I rate this book a 5 out of 5.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author for review. I was in no way compensated for this review it is my own opinion.
Posted January 13, 2012
Propelled by an insurmountable sense of desperation, Stevie Burke is recklessly abandoning home, husband, and outwardly contented life under cover of night; at last resigned to defeat in her long battle against the tortured memories of her past.
Days later, lost and floundering in a dreary motel room without plan or destination, it is a long ago song playing on the radio that gently tugs Stevie back through the dust of remembrance. 1957 - The last summer spent at the ancient house overlooking the North Atlantic. A season which had unfolded with abundant promise, but then spiraled horribly out of control - torn apart by a shattering tragedy that remains splintered in fragments upon her soul. And it is only now, when Stevie at last lifts her eyes to stare deep into the heart of her long sequestered memories, that the long held secrets of past and future are at last unveiled.
We all have childhood memories that when triggered can cause us pain and sometimes even despair. Stevie Burke however carries the weight of the world on her shoulders due to a horrible ending to the summer of 1957 when she lost her sister, when her innocence was forever shattered and when her world was turned upside down!
Author Barbara Forte Abate may have only written one novel but the story that she chose to share is one of family, betrayal, lies, heartache, lost innocence and most of all coming to terms with things that are out of one person's ability to have ever controlled or prevented happening.
The character of Stevie Burke starts out as a teenager of 14 when she is on the brink of young womanhood and her story ends in her twenties when she is a grownup, tormented for all the years in between by what happened the summer her sister died.
Facing things head-on has never been easy for Stevie, as a child she always had her parents to buffer her from the harsher side of life. With both her Father and Mother gone as a grown woman she learns to depend on Ash Waterman, a young man who she met years before he came to work on her parents farm and developed a strong distaste for until one day she opened her eyes and her feelings changed to acceptance, then friendship and seemingly overnight into a deep and abiding love.
However, even with the steady embracing love of Ash she never laid to rest the tragedy of her childhood. Running away from her husband and her despised childhood home seem like the only solution to ending her misery.
Stevie's headlong flight from all that is familiar and good in her life leads her back to where she once was happiest, the place where her sister lost her life and the place Stevie thought she would never revisit again.
This is a tale of a character who loses her way, a character who is driven by inner demons that lead her to push those in her life who care about her the most as far away as possible. The journey to reconciling her past with her future is a hard one for Stevie, it almost costs her more than she can ever bear to lose.
In the end there are still unanswered questions whether things will work out between Stevie and Ash, however other issues for Stevie are resolved completely so it works out in my mind that the reader knows all they need to.
[ECopy of book provided in exchange for an honest review.]
Posted December 27, 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, but I was very intrigued by the synopsis and I thought it would definitely be worth my time to read it. The story starts out with Stevie, the main character, deciding to leave her husband. It's immediately apparent that she's dealing with some very personal demons, but they are not revealed right away. Instead, we are taken back 12 years to when the troubles began, which give a very clear (and at times disturbing) picture of some pivotal moments in Stevie's life. We are then able to follow her through the years to see what ultimately leads her down the path that she chooses. I really liked Stevie. She was incredibly easy to connect with and relate to; at times she was a bit naive, but her heart was always in the right place. I would also say she is incredibly strong, because she ends up going through a lot in that time period, yet somehow she perseveres, although she certainly could have benefited from some therapy. Stevie has an older sister, Eleanor, who tries to act more worldly and sophisticated than she really is. The first part of the book follows the girls as they spend their summers at their aunt and uncle's house by the beach; even though they fight a lot, as I'm sure most teenage sisters do, it's obvious that they care a lot for each other. Eleanor was exasperating at times, but when she dropped her "I'm more mature than you" attitude she was actually very likable. There are two boys/men that come into Stevie's life. First is Jake, with whom both Stevie and Eleanor become mildly obsessed with during their summer vacations. It's Stevie and her warm, open personality that win Jake over, and as the years pass they begin to have more serious feelings for each other. Then there's Ash, who she ends up meeting several years down the road; she claims to hate him at first, although it's a case of "she doth protest too much" since there is obvious chemistry between them. I really liked both guys, but they were each a part of a different part of Stevie's life. By the time she met Ash, she was a much different person. I didn't even brush the surface of the events that changed her life, but I don't want to give any major plot points so you will have to read it for yourself to find out what happens! The only negative I could say about this book is that there are times when the story skips forward months or years, and it's confusing as to how much time has passed. I wouldn't say it's very distracting, but it did make me pause and wonder how much time was passing between major events. I truly enjoyed this book, from the well written characters to the intriguing story line. Some of main plot events were obvious and expected; others caught me completely off guard. I had trouble putting it down, anxious to find out what was going to happen next in Stevie's life. I'm glad I got the chance to read this one; I think there's a good balance of drama, romance, humor, and secrets to please almost every reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2011
The Secret of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate is a dark, captivating read. I found my self easily drawn into the story. The author definitely wrote strong and memorable characters like Stevie who I couldn't help but feel drawn to. I did feel a little torn about the ending but really that's my only complaint about this book. The writing is carefully crafted and beautiful, almost lyrical. The struggle that goes on within Stevie is deep and real. Get ready for a roller coaster of emotions. This book is not like anything i've read and I mean that as the sincerest compliment. Barbara Forte Abate is a force to be reckoned with. If you're looking for a thought provoking read, something that will really draw you in than this is your book. But you're forewarned, it will move you. I highly recommend that you buy this book, you will love it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2011
The Secret of Lies is a bit outside my wheelhouse when it comes to the genres that I read. But I decided to read it because the plot sounded interesting, and I thought the writing style was lovely.
What I Liked: 1) I really loved the writing style. Because I spend so much of my reading time in paranormal words with modern teenagers as the main characters, it seems like I get my fair share of teenspeak. But this one was written with an air of elegance that I really enjoyed. 2) Stevie (Stephanie). As the main character, Stevie was one of the most relateable characters I've read in a long time. I don't know if that's because she and I had some things in common, or what, but I understood her emotions so clearly, that she became a very real person. 3) The setting. The story begins in the Summer of 1957 (pauses to sing 'Summer of '69'). I loved reading a story set in that time period. It really made the story unique. 4) The descriptions. This is part of the reason I enjoyed the setting so much. There were such vivid descriptions that I was able to sink into the story completely.
What I Didn't Like: 1) The beginning was a little off for me. I had a hard time getting involved with it. It wasn't until page 50 or so that I really just lost myself in what was happening. What was different about the first 50 pages? I think that Stevie was so young in the beginning that it threw me off a little. Once she aged up a bit, it was easier for me to understand her thinking. 2) Some of the events, or people that are a big part of Stevie's life, seem to disappear and then we never hear from them again. I was curious about those people (particularly Jake) when the book finished. What purpose did he serve in her life? (not really a dislike, more like a general pondering)
Overall thoughts: This was a good coming of age novel with a unique setting, a main character that is easy to relate to, and an interesting plot line. Sinking into this story is like wrapping a fuzzy blanket around yourself. Miz Abate has done an excellent job with The Secret of Lies, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
Posted November 28, 2011
I laughed, I cried, I loved this book...
The Secret Of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate is a beautiful story that you won't soon forget, the story of Stevie is one that is filled with innocence, lies, personal growth, and finding the strength to live her life
Barbara Forte Abate treats us with a story that simply takes your breath away. She has the ability to grab the readers attention from the beginning in such a way that you can't do anything but continue reading and see what happens in Stevie's journey and how she deals with the lies she is forced to keep.
I found Abate's writing style to be similar to that of Nicolas Sparks in that you can not only read, but you can feel the emotion that the author pours into each page. The story of Stevie and Ash is one that is so raw and so full of honesty that you will be plowing through the pages to see how it all ends.
Abate does a fantastic job of developing every character that we come across; whether it is to love them, or hate them, they all will find a way into your heart.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the progession. The story starts with a very adolescent Stevie, and we watch as she grows into a woman who has yet to come to grips with her past. Abate does a fantastic job of allowing the reader to see into the very soul of Stevie, and allows us to see the deeper side that she hides from those around her. Abate is such a talented writer and I will continuously look for more of her writing.
From beginning to end, this story is a work of art that needs to be appreciated by every reader. Pick up this book book and prepare yourself for an unforgettable roller coaster rider of emotions.
Posted November 18, 2011
The Secret of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate has to be one of the best novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. I was shocked to learn this is Abate¿s first published work. Her writing style brings to mind such authors as Harper Lee and John Steinbeck. She writes with such detail, bringing images to life with the stroke of her pen. In her debut novel, she delivers a touching tale about, love, innocence, betrayal, loss and lies.
Secret of Lies reflects back on events that occurred off the Atlantic coast during the summer of 1957. The story unfolds through the voice of protagonist Stevie Burke. When the tale begins, Stevie is sneaking out of her home and leaving her husband. She is driving aimlessly and ends up in a dark musty hotel room three days later. We can tell that she is deeply troubled by something. It is here, as an Elvis song plays on the radio, that she reflects back on the summers, she and her sister spent at the shore home of their Aunt Smyrna and Uncle Cal.
Abate writes with a paint brush, bringing the seaside, storms, and fields to life. I could feel the wind and smell the sea air. She has a gift for beautifully expressing the emotions and feelings of a first kiss, a betrayal and loss. She unfolds the tale allowing the reader to put the pieces together before Stevie, giving us a sense of foreboding. While the subject matter is dark, Abate also shows us the light. We experience the joy of first love, childhood, and innocence.
Abates creates characters that you will love, pity and loathe. The character of Stevie is beautifully portrayed and you cannot help but like her. The way in which Abate shows the interaction between Stevie and her sister Eleanor reminded me of my own childhood. After the tragedy of 1957, we see firsthand how this affects Stevie. She struggles with the secrets and her memories. Years later,she meets Ash Waterman; through him she may finally find peace and happiness. I found myself rooting for this young man as he struggles to understand Stevie. The romance that develops between them is sweet, witty and romantic.
The story, the circumstances, and the impact it has on the characters is believable and touching. The events that occurred in the summer of '57 could have happened to any family. The ending is not wrapped up in a pretty little bow, but instead allows the reader to determine the outcome. While some may not like it, I feel it was appropriate. After all, life and family drama, do not come in neat little boxes.
I highly recommend this novel to everyone, but particularly those who enjoy books based on family, tragedy and human emotion. This would make a wonderful book club read. I have added Barbara Forte Abate to my list of must read authors and look forward to her next book.
I want to thank the author for providing this ARC, in exchange for my unbiased review.
Posted September 29, 2011
I was immediately drawn to this book. It is an emotionally dark and intense novel about coming of age, lies, betrayal, guilt, and hopefully acceptance. The characters pull at your heartstrings. The writing is so rich you feel as if you personally know these people. Some you will love, some you will pity, and some you will abhor. The main character is Stephanie Burke. She is an incredible person. She has a story that must be told. Ms Forte Abate does a masterful job telling Stevie's tale.
It was the summer of 1957. Stevie and her sister Eleanor are spending the summer in Long Island with their Aunt Smyrna and Uncle Cal. Smyrna is the sister of the girls mother, Libby. They spend each summer in Long Island. This summer is different. Eleanor is 17 and Stevie 5. The girls are growing up. No longer are they youngsters content with swimming in the water and running around the beach. Eleanor, at 17, is on the verge of womanhood. The unthinkable happens, tragedy strikes, lies and deceit become the norm. Events occur that scar Stevie for life. She feels a guilt that is not hers to carry.
Salvation comes years later in the form of one young man named Ash waterman. He loves Stevie not in spite of, but because of who she is. A soul in need of help. A woman seeking forgiveness and understanding for a crime that was not hers. Today she would be in therapy to overcome her issues. These events are occurring in the early 60's. Therapy wasn't the 'thing to do' back then. The ending of the book (no spoilers here) is left open enough that a possible sequel can be written. I would love to see Stevie and Ash work through everything together. I would love to see Stevie write the names and baptism dates of their children in the family Bible.
A fantastic book. No, it did not contain sex, drugs, vampires, werewolves, or demi gods. (There was some rock and roll in the form of Elvis Presley. ) It was an emotional book about growing.
Posted July 28, 2011
This book begins with a young girl named Stephanie. She and her sister spend every summer with their aunt and uncle at a beach house. But one summer everything goes wrong and they never return. Stephanie feels guilty for what she feels is her part in the wrong that happened. The story ends with her as an adult and how she resolves the issues of guilt and the memories of the past.
I really enjoyed this book. It actually surprised me. This book would probably be considered an indy book, so I'm sorry to say, I wasn't expecting much. But I was very pleasantly surprised. Although not a book I would have picked for myself, I found it very griping right from the beginning. The author has a way of writing that feels like poetry, drawing you into the story with the beautiful descriptions and a feeling of belonging that all good authors have.
My only complaint would have been with how the story ended. I'm a sucker for a neat and wrapped up ending and this left me with some questions. But if it had been wrapped up neatly it wouldn't have felt true to the book and how it was written. So it's only for my own sense of curiosity and not a flaw of the book.
I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Posted May 10, 2011
Twin sisters Stevie and Eleanor opened Chapter One. I related to the teasing. The banter of sisters who clearly loved each other made me want to immediately call my own "twilight twin."
The story was told from sister Stevie's perspective. Stevie gave entrance into her world with a down-to-earth yet slightly humorous conversational voice. Throughout the story, words were beautifully strung into visual accounts of Stevie's memories of days gone by (some good, some not-so-good, some awfully grievous).
I felt the author may have left the door open for a sequel.
Posted June 13, 2010
I Also Recommend:
I have never read a book as intense as this book is. It is brilliantly written, and at times my husband swears I was saying, "No, you jerk, or don't you dare." That is how powerful this story line is. Eleanor twelve and her sister Stevie ten, leave their hometown of Callicoon, Pennsylvania to spend their vacation with their Aunt Smyrna and Uncle Cal at their summer home on Long Island, where the days are filled with swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and the sisters unending pursuit of an intriguing and mysterious boy.
That is until the summer of 1957.Eleanor is now seventeen and Stevie fifteen. What happened that summer is something that has to be kept a secret, or so Aunt Smyrna tells Stevie. Stevie is trapped in a vortex and it is not only destroying her teenage years but carries over into her adult life.
How many lives are altered by one moment in time, one decision made in that moment? How many moments does it take too completely and irreversibly alter one's life?
To tell you more will ruin what makes this book so great. It is a must buy for your own personal library. In our economy today buying a book can be a luxury. I would buy this book.
Five Star Rating
Posted July 13, 2010
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Posted November 9, 2011
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Posted November 16, 2011
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