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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
368 pages
Oct 2007
Bethany House Publishers

Every Secret Thing

by Ann Tatlock

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Buried thoughts are resurrected in Anne Tatlock’s Every Secret Thing. The novel tells the story of Elizabeth “Beth” Gunnar, a high school English teacher haunted by unsolved mysteries and unsettled questions that resurface while teaching at her alma mater. Satchel Queen, a troubled student, begins telling Beth about secret things in her own life. While Beth struggles to make sense of her personal memories, she tries to help Satchel deal with hers.

Every Secret Thing is a first-person narrative peppered with dialogue and candid excerpts from Satchel’s essays. The first half contains flashbacks to Beth’s school days, while the second half revolves around an unraveling mystery and Beth’s newly rekindled relationship with her high school sweetheart.

Beth is a woman obsessed with solving the mysteries of her past. Despite her friends’ admonitions, she can’t quiet her curiosity. She longs for closure in everything, whether past problems or present uncertainties. When Satchel runs away from home, a friend tells Beth he thinks he knows where the girl is, saying, “And if she’s where I think she is, she’s quite safe.” However, Beth wants more assurance despite her friend’s warning that Satchel will be safer if no one knows her location.

Beth is a believable character, whose life is comparable to the lives of many readers. She struggles with universal issues: fear, insecurity, and trust. Tatlock clearly describes the emotional journey of the protagonist, but Beth’s maturity grows only a little. Except for her obsession with her unresolved past, she seemed to be a mature character from the beginning. This makes me wonder why her journey was so important. Nevertheless, many readers will be able to recognize their own experience of faith in Beth’s. Her internal struggles do not disappear just because she has faith in God. Rather, her experience of God is episodic. Beth wishes she were aware of God’s continuous presence, but instead feels connected to God only in her “moments of being”—times when she has not been actively seeking God, but when God has made Himself known to her.

The real struggle in Every Secret Thing is much more subtle than a typical mystery novel—but perhaps that’s what makes it worth reading. Life isn’t always an epic journey, but like Beth’s, it’s sometimes the secret things that impact us most. – Robin Snyder, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

When Elizabeth Gunnar accepts a job as an English teacher at the school she attended as a girl, she finds herself returning to more than a place. Seaton Preparatory holds so many memories--of a beloved teacher who left under mysterious circumstances, of a young woman searching for her place in the world, of a former love.

Once there, Elizabeth finds unexpected challenges--and challenging people. She meets Satchel Queen, a troubled student whose writing assignments draw her attention. And Ray Schmidt is a childhood friend her heart has never forgotten.

As new friendships form and the past is brought to light, Elizabeth finds renewing from a most unexpected source.