4 out of 4 stars
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“A huge wave raised its dragon-like head and loomed briefly over the craft. Unleashing itself on the hapless tiny vessel, the powerful force crashed down, splintering wood, ripping away canvas, and throwing the half-drowned boy into the blackened depths of an angry and unforgiving sea.”
This intense scene opens the prologue of the novel Secrets of Time by Michael Bennett Wilson. The reader is thrown into the action with no explanation of what is going on. Reading it, I was captured by the writer’s style. He is quite skilled with figurative language and imagery and uses intelligent vocabulary. I wondered who the boy was and why he was in this dangerous situation. Interestingly, these questions would not be answered until much later.
Chapter 1 jumps forward in time and begins the story of Jerome Martin, a socially awkward teen with only one true friend. He lives in the shadow of his athletic, popular, older brother who bullies Jerome. Their mother is divorced and slipping into prescription drug addiction. They live in a seaside town called West Air. As the story unfolds, we learn that most of the main characters are tortured by secrets from the past. The author skillfully drops hints without revealing the hidden truths that create a web connecting the diverse characters.
I thought this author did a great job with characterization. I quickly bonded with Jerome and his struggles with anxiety which were so accurately described. I was intrigued by the old, disillusioned shop teacher who seems to not care about anything, but takes a huge risk to help save a colleague’s job. I learned to hate the banker whose family controls the town by coercion, wealth, and threats. And I loved Abbie who is such a faithful friend to Jerome despite her own painful past. The author uses a third-person point of view and transitions the focus between various characters so the reader gets a deeper understanding of each one.
On the surface, this is a coming of age story of a teen who struggles to understand life. Deeper though, it is the story of a town struggling to face its past and find the freedom to create a new future. The only disappointment with this book involved style. After the intensity and vividness of the prologue, the rest of the book seemed a little less impactful. Still, the suspense of trying to piece together the mystery of the past kept my interest.
This book was well-edited and the writing flowed. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to anyone who likes a slower-paced, character-driven novel with an intriguing mystery pulling everything together.
Secrets of Time
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