Title: Shattering Secrets
Author: Chautona Havig
Major Themes: Divorce, Unfaithfulness
Synopsis: When unfaithfulness is discovered, the effects are far reaching—is there any hope that one can find forgiveness after something like that?
Where do you even start to describe a book like Shattering Secrets? My first reaction, when I (admittedly) gushed a little on the Facebook group, was summed up in the word “outstanding”. I’ll stick by that. That’s what this book is. It’s the most emotionally-charged book I think I’ve read all year (and that’s saying something, because A Bird Died ripped at my heart earlier this year), and it’s also the most unforgettable. Probably the most encouraging, too, actually.
Shattering Secrets has a level of depth that I didn’t really expect when I first waded in. I loved the characters from the beginning—Sean, Emily, and their cute five-year-old Piper.
Emily longs for another child as she watches Piper grow older. As a “Mommy-blogger”, she takes on different projects in order to help boost her blog traffic and be a blessing to others. This year, she’s sketching portraits of the children in her daughter’s kindergarten class. While there, she meets an incredible diversity of children, many with heart-wrenching stories even though they’re so young. Meanwhile, she and Sean try to encourage a friend who is going through an ugly divorce to forgive. How can they help her deal with her grief and bitterness in a Christ-like way? But greater troubles loom on the horizon—are forgiveness and grace enough to keep them steady even when dealing with broken trust?
Shattering Secrets deals with the incredible pain unfaithfulness brings not only into a marriage and family, but to the church and community at large. It’s awful. Ugly. Mrs. Havig exposes it for what it is, and shows how it can be totally devastating. The struggles of the characters were very real—almost too real, in fact! However, through the ugliness, the light of Christ—His love—shines true. I cried as I watched the affects of one person’s sin infiltrate so many different people, making many not only angry but even making some turn away from the Lord.
Basically, this book contains a message that needs to get out—sin is sin, there’s a reason why God says He hates it, and “be sure your sin will find you out” is all too true.
This book isn’t all dark, however, even though the subject matter isn’t an easy one by any means. I loved the children in the story—little Piper and Joey completely won my heart. One of my favorite quotes by Piper was on Christmas morning as she returned from a wake-up-Mommy mission. “She’s awake! She wasn’t, but I fixed that.” There’s just enough of their little bits of humor that this book doesn’t feel completely down. Yes, there are some terrible plot twists—ones that caught me completely by surprise and made me shout “NOOO!” (I’m sure the author would have loved to watch me read this—I’m certain I shouted at her several times out of pure commiseration for the heart-wringing she gave her poor characters.) The ending was satisfying, too.
I highly recommend this book to women of all ages, but preferably above 18. Due to the subject matter, there are some pretty difficult things discussed, even though I was (again) impressed at the lack of description Mrs. Havig managed to achieve. This book is very clean. Even though you know what’s going on, it’s not explicitly stated. I’m thankful for that!
Note: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. I voluntarily wrote a review, and all opinions expressed are my own.
Adultery. What really happens to a family when a spouse commits adultery? Is it really a big deal? It’s so prevalent today; surely that makes the impact less? Emily, a mom blogger, thought it was a big deal. As she discussed the issue with her husband Sean while she wrote a blog post about the topic, she thought of it as a sexually transmitted disease—it affects everyone you have been in contact with, including your spouse, your children, your extended family, and even your church. She had just seen firsthand the devastation caused by a man’s repeated affairs. Emily was so very thankful for the agreement she and Sean had to tell the other at the very first hint of any attraction to another person, to talk about it and stay open about it.
Emily’s Christmas project that year would hopefully lead to a book contract. She visited her daughter’s classroom and drew a cartoon picture of each of the children while she discussed what they wanted for Christmas—anything, whether it could be wrapped and put under the tree or not. As she had hoped, she got some unusual answers. One little girl wanted “nothing”. One boy wanted his Mom home again when he got home from school. And Joey wanted his father. After just a little digging, Emily discovered that he didn’t know who his father was or where he was, and she set out on a mission to find him and help Joey’s mother, who was dying of hepatitis. And the next thing she knew, her world was spiraling out of control.
Shattering Secrets is, in some ways, a hard book to read. The subject matter is not something we want to ever even think about, much less discuss. It needs to be brought out into the open at times, however, to be able to help people who are affected by the sin of adultery. Jesus made it plain that adultery is sin; it is listed as one of the sins that will keep people out of heaven if they don’t repent and turn from it. Shattering Secrets shows clearly how adultery can affect a family, a community, and a church. This is a powerful story. Chautona Havig has crafted a masterpiece here, a beautiful, and ugly, picture of love and sin. She vividly shows the emotional fallout after sin is revealed. Can those hurt by other’s sin ever learn to forgive and trust the one who has wronged them—or is this sin unforgivable? Is it ever possible to reconcile a marriage that has been damaged by this sin?
The characters are so real. I identified in many ways with Emily, and really grew to dislike her friend Kate. Why are some people so determined to drag others down to their level? As always, there is humor along the way. I loved the scene on Christmas morning when the children woke Emily up, and her daughter announced, “She’s awake! She wasn’t, but I fixed that.” You’ll find yourself laughing along the way, occasionally, and crying at other times through this story.
I appreciated the author’s care in writing this book to not show any graphic scenes. With the subject of the book being what it is, it would have been very easy to cross lines that should not be crossed, but she didn’t. She was afraid she had, and sent out the first half of the book to several people to make sure it would be all right. I read that first half, and told her I didn’t mind allowing my teenage daughter to read it—she was that discreet.
I received an advanced reader copy of this book and chose to write a review of it.
WARNING: Some women’s issues are mentioned once somewhere near the beginning of the book. Throughout the story, there are kisses and other things like that. Never described in detail. See the last paragraph of the review.