Book Review: "House of Secrets" by Tracie Peterson

Summary from When her father orchestrates a surprise trip to the summer house of her childhood, Bailee Cooper is unprepared for what follows. What is intended to be a happy reunion for Bailee and her sisters, Geena and Piper, quickly becomes shrouded by memories from the past.

Together again, the three sisters sift through their recollections of fifteen years ago...of an ill mother, and of their father making a desperate choice. They vowed, as children, to be silent--but one sister believes the truth must now be revealed. Yet can they trust their memories?

Mark Delahunt arrives in the wake of this emotional turmoil. Determined to win Bailee's affection, Mark becomes the strong fortress for her in this time of confusion, and what was once a tentative promise begins to take root and grow. Caught between the past and an uncertain future, can Bailee let God guide her to heal the past and ultimately to embrace love?

Tracie Peterson's contemporary books are few and far between but I feel like they blow her historical romances out the park. I wish that she wrote more of them but the few that she has published have been gems in the rocks. I had been slightly disappointed with the last few historicals she's put out so I was a bit hesitant in picking up this one but I was very glad that I did when I finished.

This book handles a subject very rarely talked about in Christian fiction, schizophrenia and mental illness. I could probably count on my hands the number of times it's been mentioned in Christian fiction. I'm not sure why authors tend to stay away from the subject unless they feel like the reader does not want to read about it. I know that there are some Christians who do not believe in mental illness, depression or seeing psychiatrists and that it is an issue that just depends on praying harder. Peterson does not portray that mentality in any way in this book.

The book portrays a family's situation with dealing with the aftereffects of a family member suffering from that condition. It's something that has stuck with the three girls their entire lives as they and their father kept secrets from each other in order to protect themselves. It's hard to read what the girls' mother did to them and to herself and entirely the whole family. They can never understand exactly what was going on in her head and even though they eventually come to healing, it's always going to be a question they will wonder about. The portrayal of the Christians in the past who didn't help out the family is sad but unfortunately true as well.

I did have some minor qualms in the story. Bailee becomes a Christian rather quickly though in her defense, this is something that she has probably been thinking about for many years. I also honestly could have done without the romance part of the book. I would have been more impressed if Mark had just stayed a close friend and maybe hint a romance in the future. The ending seemed a bit rushed to me especially considering how much had happened and needed to be thought over by the characters.

Overall though, I was quite pleased with the story. This book is a complete 180 from Peterson's historical romances. It's written in first person and the story seems to be more serious in tone with lots more character development than her other books. I do hope she continues to write more contemporaries in the future especially with these hard hitting subjects. I know that I will definitely be picking it up.

House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson is published by Bethany House (2011)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


  1. This sounds like a great story, Deborah. I am definitely putting it on my wish list. I don't think I've read any CF dealing with mental illness so this has definitely peaked my interest.

  2. I really never thought about it before, but I really haven't seen any Christian fiction that focuses on mental illness and its effects. Putting aside the minor issues you had with this one, I think this sounds like a very good read. Thanks for the review


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