Title: The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery
Author: Amanda Cox
Major Themes: Split-Time Novels, Secrets, Forgiveness
Synopsis: A young woman pregnant out of wedlock. Another running from recent grief and long-suppressed anger. Can either find their healing in the Old Depot Grocery?
I’ve heard of Amanda Cox before, but never managed to read a book from her pen until now. But when I saw The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery come up, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s not every day that you get to try out a new recommended author, is it? And wow . . . this book blessed, intrigued, and surprised me.
After a tragedy pushes her out of her own home, Sarah Ashby is finally returning to her childhood hometown, trying to deal with grief and the suppressed anger she doesn’t want to admit to—yet. She’s always dreamed of working in the Old Depot Grocery, just like her mother and grandmother—this seems like the perfect chance to do just that. When she arrives, though, she finds out that Old Depot Grocery has been put up for sale. Will all her dreams crumble around her?
It’s 1965, and Glory Ann’s world has shattered around her. Pregnant out of wedlock, and her boyfriend killed in the Vietnamese war, she is given no choice in the decision to marry a man in a town an hour away. It’s the only way to save their family’s reputation, so now she has been shipped off to live at Old Depot Grocery with a man she doesn’t love. Can she find healing from her crushing grief inside those wooden walls? Will she ever know true love again?
The Secrets of Old Depot Grocery is a delightfully complicated book, telling the history and the present alternatively to develop the characters and show how our past can drastically influence our present and future. Cox is a masterful author, weaving plot and prose into a gripping story. I loved the time-slip side of the story; the suspense as I saw what was happening in the past while I read what was going on in the present, and then flipping back again to get more of the story. The execution was excellent. I also appreciated that this book didn’t include much romance; one or two scenes with a married couple, and that was about it. There was a tiny bit near the end, but I found the lack refreshing in a story of this caliber. Though this book can tend to the difficult side, there were also some very humorous scenes—I had a hard time containing the laughter several times!
The theme of secrets, forgiveness, and communication was also well done. I came away with a greater appreciation for the examples of open communication I’ve been given in my family. I understand why it’s tempting to cover things up—especially when things are potentially very painful—but knowing upfront is so much better. I was challenged to be better at being accountable after reading this book!
In all, I really appreciated this read. Cox is a great author, and I love how she brought the Lord into the story, as well. Now I want to go back and find the books I’ve missed by her!
I was given a review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: Throughout the book, a pregnancy out of wedlock is mentioned; it first comes up in ch. 2. A woman says something about how she was in labor in ch. 4. “Land sakes” is used in ch. 3; “for heaven’s sake” is used in ch. 5 and 36; “sure as shootin’” is used in ch. 5 and the epilogue; gosh is used in ch. 8; goodness or a variant is used in ch. 13 (twice), 21 (three times), 28, 30, 39, and 51; golly is used in ch. 16; swear is used in ch. 20 and 47; and “in heaven’s name” is used in ch. 24. There is lying throughout the book about the pregnancy, but I especially noted lying in ch. 8, 22, and 15. Women joke about wearing bikinis in ch. 5. A couple kisses in ch. 6 and 30. An accident where a man died is mentioned in ch. 19, and a woman talks about how she was ready to walk out on her marriage. A girl goes to a party and sees couples pairing off and going into the cornfield for privacy in ch. 22, there is kissing, and people get drunk. A man is killed after coming across the wrong man at the wrong time in ch. 24. Crystal meth is mentioned in ch. 28 (no explanation of what it is). A man recounts seeing a friend killed in the war in ch. 43 and how he got into drinking and every kind of drug after that and almost killed himself.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults