“Promises to Keep” by Ann Tatlock

A MOTHER fleeing unspeakable danger to keep her children safe…

TWO YOUNG GIRLS guarding secrets in a “cross my heart and hope to die” pledge…

A FATHER desperate to be reunited with his family…

She simply wants what every young girl wants—a daddy who loves her….

Eleven-year-old Rosalind (Roz) Anthony escapes an abusive home life when her mother decides to leave her husband and take the children to another state. Leaving Minnesota behind and settling in Mills River, Illinois, the family is surprised to wake up one day and find a stranger on their front porch, reading the morning paper. That stranger is 70-year-old Tillie Monroe, the former owner who aims to die in the house her husband built for her and where she lived all her married life—before her sons sold the place out from under her. Tillie’s insistence on coming home proves a godsend for the family in ways they could never imagine. Alan Anthony has followed the family to Mills River, but reveals himself only to Roz. What Roz wants more than anything is for her daddy to quit drinking, to be the good man she knows him to sometimes be, and to take his rightful place as husband and father. He promises to change. But should Roz trust him?

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I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I tapped out my first stories on my grandfather’s old manual typewriter in the summer of 1973. I studied English and theology in college and later went on to earn my master’s degree in journalism from Wheaton College Graduate School. I worked as a writer and editor for Decision magazine from 1987-1992, when I left to pursue fiction writing full-time. I find great satisfaction in my work, and I especially enjoy hearing from my readers. In addition to writing, I also teach at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and online through the Christian Writers Guild.

For more information about Ann, click here: http://www.anntatlock.com/

Endorsements:

Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation. A must read.
–Ane Mulligan (www.noveljourney.blogspot.com)

Ann Tatlock has a way of spinning a story that leaves readers deeply moved and unguardedly contemplative—and her newest offering lives up to that standard.  –Michele Howe, CBA Retailers

A lively narrative….poignant and moving.  –Publishers Weekly

“Award-winning inspirational fiction author Tatlock continues to excel in her latest contemporary novel….Even as it moves along at a comfortable pace, the novel is peppered with suspense….Recommended for fans of inspirational coming-of-age stories and tales of brave young women.”  –Elizabeth Ponder, Booklist, starred review

My Review:

Janis Anthony decides to leave her abusive husband, Alan, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, taking their three children, Wally, Rosalind (Roz) and Valerie along.  With the help of her father (Grandpa Lehman), they purchase a home in Mills River, Illinois.

Within a few days of settling in, Tillie Monroe, the former owner of the house, appears on their porch, reading their Sunday paper.  She explains that she and her husband built this house, raised their family there, and that she has every intention of dying in ‘her’ house, as did her husband.  Though Tillie’s son continues to return her to the old folks’ home, she ends up back at ‘her’ house.  Soon she ends up living there, and she turns out to be a blessing in disguise in more ways than one.  In fact, you, too, will come to love and appreciate Tillie and her love and wisdom.

For those who grew up in a family with a mother and father, you will learn from Ann Tatlock’s book, Promises to Keep, the hardships of being in a single-parent family.  Some of the challenges include a teenager who’s angry at life and wants to move on, the audacity of a mother dating someone other than daddy, the shenanigans pulled on that other someone, handling disciplinary problems alone, and the challenges of making ends meet on a mother’s salary.

One can hear about these issues, but it’s another to experience them through the eyes of a young girl who is living it all first-hand.  This story is told from Roz’s point-of-view, and you become privy to her special heartaches, desires and secrets.  Ann does a great job of bringing out characters that are so true-to-life, while at the same time tugging on your heartstrings at the broken hearts, fears, anger, and loneliness.  It’s Roz’s close friendship with Mara that helps her through some of the tough times.  They both love and miss their daddies, and make a ‘daddy wish’ pinky prayer promise, with a solemn promise to keep their secrets hidden.

Unbeknownst to Janis, Alan Anthony has also moved to Mills River, but keeps himself hidden from all but Roz, who aches to have her daddy back, if he keeps his promises to change.  You’ll witness the unfair manipulations of a desperate dad who takes advantage of a very vulnerable girl who trusts him to make them a family again.  Through the prayers of Tillie, we are privileged to see God turn the whole situation around.

The slower life of Mills River is a quiet respite after life in the city of Minneapolis.  Having experienced both, I really enjoyed the lifestyle differences portrayed by Ann.

I won’t easily forget this book, now knowing more deeply the pains of losing a mother or father to divorce, and the deep desire of many of the children who want to see them reunite.  The whole book is gently, yet decisively, written to keep your interest.

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary value was exchanged.

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