Her Secret: Shelley Shepard Gray
Isolation and fear harbors the life of Hannah Hilty when she finds herself at the mercy of a young man who seems obsessed with her. As the stalker begins his legacy of terror by sending her pictures of herself doing various things, knowing that the Amish do not take pictures, a chill crawls down her spine, her family is uprooted and dissension reigns as her young brother and sister begin to resent her and the fact that they had to move to another city and state. Berlin, Ohio was where they originated from and now living in Hart County, Kentucky things are calm for a while but eventually spiral out of control once more. Fear can create many serious mental and physical problems and although Hannah is pretty, smart and has been instructed by her parents to tutor and teach Ben and Jenny her siblings, the anger and resentment come out each time she is with them, mostly Jenny. Rebelling against her sister creates even more strife for the family, as the young man named Trent, from incidents that happen seems to have found a way to stalk her once more. Trent is sending her messages that are frightening but when her parents tell her that the move was not just because of her but because her father is ill and now her mother needs to work full time, attitudes change, the kettle or tempers boil over and then simmer, and Hannah needs to decide whether she can trust anyone again and assimilate into this new community. Isaac Troyer introduces himself to her but you know sometimes first impressions are not what they seem or should be. Rather than acting like a potential suitor, taken in by her pretty face, he teases her by calling her a The Recluse, which to Hannah was insulting and hurtful. When he learns the truth and realizes why she is so afraid of her own shadow and the fact that she is being stalked, he repents, apologizes to her but will that be enough to cement their friendship. Jenny her young sister acts out, yells and accuses her of ruining her life and that of her family because they were forced to move away from her school and friends. As a result she rebels, fosters a friendship with an older guy named Shane, not realizing that she is walking into a deadly trap. Jenny admits what he did in order to get close to Trent not realize that the man called Shane that she got involved with might be one and the same. Tempers flare, words are said and two sisters have to come to terms with each other as everyone within this community reminds the reader and themselves to be grateful for the gifts that God bestows upon us. Isaac invites Hannah to join him in helping for the sandwich sale to raise funds to help a young couple’s son get heart surgery. The community joins in and Hannah is well received as they soon realize that her organizational skills are amazing and she finds herself enjoying the company of everyone that she meets, especially Isaac. Things are not always what they appear and someone tells her about Isaac, his past and what tragedy struck him and how he survived. Added in her family is going through something with her father who has cancer and who has refused treatment. But, things are peaceful for a while but during the sandwich sale someone appears out of nowhere and Hannah is frightened as she spots Trent but not before getting an envelope with some disturbing pictures and several one or two word threats written across them. Hannah cannot decide whether to seek out the help of the police until her brother and sister and Isaac convince her to do the right thing and accept help before it’s too late. Will she decide to run away once more and live in fear? Will Isaac stick by her or turn away? Hannah Hilty and Isaac Troyer seem made for each other but are they? This is an Amish community and they stick together as Jenny reveals information about Trent and then not only does her family ban together but his does too and the police take it quite seriously. The unity and love within this community is strong and vibrant the fear within Hannah’s heart and the guilt that Jenny feels for causing some of her own anguish and her sister’s too comes through. Hannah has always been a loner whereas Ben and Jenny relate better to their friends and just as they both started to join in and become part of the community this happens but the worst has yet to be revealed. As everyone is tense and Hannah does not want to bury herself at home or in her room, her parents are away, her sister and brother are not home and all alone left vulnerable for this stalker to kidnap her and prey on her fears. The scene is described in a vivid fashion as we see Hannah in captivity in a basement that is filthy and she cannot move or even speak a word. The threats, the slaps the fear and the hope that God will be with her as Isaac learns what has happened and the town of amazing people create a long chain of events and ways to get her back but will they in time? The stalker has been following her and Isaac taking pictures of them which is what he sends her to let he know he is very near. Obsessed with Hannah, thinking he will keep her captive until she promises herself to him as she has to find the way to fight back and stand up and face him head on. Hannah is afraid, her sister Jenny and her brother Ben are hurt as things progress and they attempt to find Hannah to get her back? Will the stalker win? Will Hannah finally be able to face the world without the fear of someone trying to capture her and take away her freedom? Told within a specific timeline as the author creates her chapter headings with the dates that each event occurs, Hannah reflects at the same time that Isaac was the man who hurt her feelings at first, called her names and then days after became her friend. Was he her boyfriend? Why does he reveal his other girlfriends to her? Will these change things between them? A dark basement, a dirty rag stuffed in her mouth and Trent leaving her alone but not before telling her what he had planned for her. One sick stalker, one young vulnerable young woman, one town on edge and a family torn apart by fear, anger, resentment and finally love and hope. The ending will leave you wondering what is next for Hannah, Isaac, Jenny and her newfound friend Cole who enlightens everyone about Shane/Trent. Will Trent win or will God’s love and gifts prevail? Sheriff Brewer took control. Hannah is locked away and cannot speak will he find her before something terrible happens to her? Sometimes we leave somewhere to hide our pasts and hopefully create a new future but first one young girl has to release herself and face Her Secret and let it go!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine