Monday, January 25, 2010

Book 4- Secret Keepers

This southern family, the Hanley's, has many secrets, some well buried, and some not so well hidden in the small town of Palmetto, South Carolina, the setting of this second novel by Mindy Friddle.

Dora, a reformed hippie wild child, is married to Donnie, a control freak hidden behind the mask of right wing religious fundamentalism and attendees of an upstart church located in... a mall. They have to children, the eldest Kyle, age 14. Dora's mother, Emma, has longed to travel the world and is just on the cusp of the Big Trip, Emma's husband Henry dies, leaving her feeling trapped in their old house, in the small town.

Emma's oldest son, Will, was killed in Vietnam, and her youngest son Bobby is mentally handicapped and hears voices and will always live at home with her, trapping her further. Emma and Dora are not close because Dora is religious and Emma is most certainly not. Donnie doesn't want his wife and children around a "non-believer" and Dora kowtows to his demand.

After the death of Henry, Emma still yearns for her Trip, and she also reflects on her own childhood, when her family used to own a fancy house across town that is now the local flop house. It's ironic that this is her focus because Jake, an old beau of Dora's, starts a landscaping business called the Blooming Idiots and most of his staff lives there.

When Jake and his crew start planting special flowers all over town, the whole city comes alive and is buzzing and brimming with newness and curiosity. And secrets start spilling.

This book meandered around it's plot, weaving in so many ideas and concepts that the idea of the flowers, called Secret Keepers, seemed to get lost even though it was supposed to be a pivotal part of the story. It's another story of a dysfunctional southern family saga but there's certainly no "fun" in this dysfunction.