Sunday, May 8, 2011

Secret Place by Leslie J. Sherrod

book cover

Secret Place
by Leslie J. Sherrod

ISBN-13: 978-1-60162-894-7
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Urban Christian
Released: March 1, 2011

Source: Review copy from the author.

Book Description, my take:
Charisma Joel's husband--a renown psychiatrist and the head of the psychiatric department at a large hospital--has fallen into a deep depression. Though he didn't explain want's wrong, he was given medical leave...but his rival now holds his post at the hospital. He's too ashamed to seek help, especially since he's convinced he'll lose his job permanently if word gets out that he suffers from severe depression.

Afraid of what others will think of them, especially those at their church, Charisma hides the reason why her husband never leaves home anymore. After living like this for nearly a year, Charisma is desperate to escape this living nightmare. She approaches her husband's rival for help despite knowing she should go to someone else. In the past, Dr. Miles Logan has tried to have an affair with her, and he's still interested. But she's also tempted by the desire in his eyes. Still, she can't quite bring herself to admit to him that her husband needs help.

Dr. Logan has his own troubles. His fling with a woman that looks remarkably like Charisma turns sour when he discovers the woman is mentally ill. She's jealous that she's been dumped for Charisma and vows revenge. When all these people converge on one horrible day, someone ends up dead. But secrets are finally exposed, and Charisma and her family can finally find the healing and freedom that comes from surrender to God.

My Review:
Secret Place is a Christian general fiction about a family dealing with mental illness. It seemed like most of the characters were at least slightly mentally ill, which was almost overdoing the topic, but it also made for a couple of quirky characters. I liked how the author brought the Miles-and-girlfriend plot-line into collision with the Charisma-and-husband plot-line, but the extent to which she further tied everyone together strained my willingness to believe.

The characters were complex and realistic. I understood why they acted the way they did, and they faced realistic struggles and temptations. I loved Pepperdine, the friend who's so earnest in her desire to help but who doesn't know what's wrong. The story was fast-paced. The suspense was created by all the decisions--both well-intentioned and bad--making things worse.

Many of the main characters were Christians, though several tried to run their life their own way. There was some prayer, sermons, and such, but they never came across like a lecture. Mostly, it was Charisma thinking about how the Sunday school lessons that she's teaching or a memorized Scripture is related to her situation. However, she didn't always act on what she knew Scripture was telling her to do. She struggled with why God wasn't handling things the way she wanted Him to.

For those curious, Charisma and her husband did believe in miracle healing but also that God can use medicine and doctors to help heal people. There was no explicit sex. There was a minor amount of "he cussed" style bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful, interesting novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"Have fun." Charisma pecked her daughter on the cheeks as the eleven-year-old slipped out of the passenger's side. Charisma did not miss the rolling eyes. "At least try to have fun."

She watched April drag up the walkway to the waiting porch light before gearing her old Grand Am back in drive. Charisma was grateful for the sleepover, grateful that the mother of April's classmate insisted that all the girls in Homeroom 6-14 be invited, not just friends.

As she turned off the narrow street in the heart of East Baltimore, Charisma tried to remember the last time she'd had a Saturday night free.


He was waiting at home.

A CD played in the portable CD player she had hooked up to her car stereo. A wire was loose but with a quick tweak to the right and then a pull to the left, one of the speakers in the back of the car played loud enough for her to hear the compilation of Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, and another gospel singer, a local girl. She couldn't remember the name.

Charisma stopped at a traffic light, looked to the right and down Marigold Street to house 319. The lights were off, the door was closed, and the shades were drawn shut.

Darkness in the middle of an otherwise busy inner city block.

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Laura Fabiani said...

Debbie, your reviews are always so interesting to read!

Genre Reviewer said...


Thank you! :)