Book Review—The Secret Life of Becky Miller

Sharon Hinck, author of The Secret Life of Becky Miller, wrote a guest blog here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction back on June 1 as a way of kicking off the release of her debut novel.

Since then, sandwiched between my own writing related activities and a family reunion, I read the book for myself. The opening hooked me, the characters held me, the conflict resonated with me, and the resolution pricked my heart. But I’m getting too far ahead.

First, the story. The main character (who, remember, has NO association with me except the name) is a young, Christian stay-at-home mom who hopes to live a life that makes a difference.

With that in mind, this woman who daydreams of great escapades—to which we are privy at the beginning of each chapter—sets out to conquer her world. She determines to be a supportive wife, an efficient homemaker and mom, an organized leader of women’s ministry in her church, a speaker to women’s groups.

And slowly, one by one, her goals crash down around her. All with the purpose—God’s purpose—of teaching her the most important lesson of life.

Strengths. If I tell you exactly how I feel about this book, you’ll probably discount it as hyperbolic ranting because of some unknown bias. Let me assure you, I am getting no kickback, no portion of the royalties, no endorsement of my writing. Nothing. These are my honest opinions.

Of course, you must understand, this book is written for Christian women. Men could enjoy it (they can identify with the conflict the protagonist goes through as well as the one her husband deals with), but I doubt if very many will read it. Too bad. Non-Christians could read it, but I wonder if they would understand the compelling desire to do something for God which is the basis of the internal conflict. Perhaps. But my guess is, not many non-Christians will read the book.

For the target audience, I don’t think there’s much better by way of contemporary fiction than The Secret Life of Becky Miller. The book hits home.

The conflicts, internal and external, are real to life. They are so like ones that the average Christian in the average church and average family can identify with.

The use of humor at the beginning is disarming. By the time the story takes a more serious tone, the realistic characters had me pulling for them.

The resolution is deeply spiritual and beautifully symbolized by the final daydream scene.

The writing is superb. Clear images. Appropriate foreshadowing. Characters that I’ve known in real life, or so it feels. “Full circle” plot—nothing left hanging; Hinck brought even the apparent unimportant back into play to supply a piece of the puzzle.

Nothing about this story feels as if it is for someone else. My life is not now nor has it ever been like the protagonist’s, but I identified completely. That’s something a good writer is able to accomplish.

Hinck also did wonderful research in the varied—and I mean, VARIED—daydream scenarios. Those were entertaining but also woven into the plot in a masterful way.

As to prose, Hinck is a master, even in the simple scenes. She utilizes strong verbs (“Her laugh trilled through the receiver”) and just enough poetry to be fresh and interesting without being distracting. Here’s a sample from a page picked at random:

They hurried to slam the cold air outside. Kevin stopped on the throw rug by the door and stared at me.

He had always been good at reading my moods. Pretty easy today, since I was vibrating with excitement.

Dialogue. I almost forgot dialogue. The exchanges are believable, purposeful, interesting, natural.

Weaknesses. I know to give a balanced review, I should include something here—kind of keep readers alerted to this glitch or that foible so they aren’t expecting perfection and feel let down when the book doesn’t meet those lofty prospects. I do remember a typo the editor missed. A “to” that should have been “too” right towards the end. But a weakness? I’ll have to get back to you on that because right now all I can think of is what a great reading experience this book was.

A MUST READ for Christian women. Highly recommend for Christian men.

Published in: on August 8, 2006 at 11:49 am  Comments (2)  

2 Comments

  1. Wow! Now to just get to the bookstore like I’ve been planning to do …. 🙂

    Like

  2. Shannon, I sure hope you like it as much as I do. I always hesitate to be “glowing” in a review because of that expectations thing. But this one is a winner, in my book.

    Becky

    Like


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: