Thursday, November 17, 2011

Circle of Secrets

Sometimes you read a book and that book touches you down to your very core. You say to yourself, this is the kind of book that everyone should read every couple of months to remind themselves of who they are and what is important in life. These books are over-arching and transcendent in their message. You can't read them and walk away with nothing. For me, The Healing Spell, by Kimberly Griffiths Little was one of those books. Understanding that, you can imagine my excitement for Circle of Secrets, released in October of this year.

I'm not one of those people who reads every new book that comes out or watches the NY Times Bestseller list for the hottest books of the year. I don't keep up on trends and I'm usually pretty clueless as to what is popular now. Actually, knowing that a book is popular usually turns me off from it. I'm just not a bandwagon person. I believe a book should stand on its own merits, not on the heightened emotions of teenage girls. Because of this, I tend to read books in a series all at once, rather than a year apart from each other. While The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets aren't exactly a series, they do share a common location and common themes. I found myself in a situation where I was already anticipating the second book, even as I read the last pages of the first book.

I've decided that anticipation does a lot to color your reading experience. An entire year of expectation can really effect the way you read a book. I was surprised, therefore, to find that Circle of Secrets was quite a bit different from both The Healing Spell and my expectations.

It's hard to pin down what exactly I expected out of Circle of Secrets. I think often when we really love a book be expect all the author's books to be just like that one, with slightly different characters and situations just for variety. That's really a silly and unfair expectation. I own The Healing Spell. If I want to read it I can go get it off the shelf and read it. I don't need the author to essentially re-write it so I can read it again. Sometimes we are disappointed to find that a book doesn't meet our expectations, because we as readers refuse to allow that book to stand on it's own merits. We force each book to lean on the foundation of its predecessor.

The truth is, Circle of Secrets is in no way a disappointing book. The story is engaging, the problems are masterfully realistic, the characters touch your heart and make you want to reach in and save them from their pain. It is truly a book that stands on its own merits. Even without the foundation laid by The Healing Spell, Circle of Secrets still forces us to question our own relationships and our ability to understand and forgive. As we read Circle of Secrets we are asked to do more than forgive those who have hurt us, we are forced to look deeper into the complexities of human relationships and understand that person better by understanding the pain that led to their hurtful actions. Shelby Jane learns (as do we) that it's easy to take offense and feel hurt, but it's much more difficult to look past ourselves and understand the pain of others. It's easy to judge another's actions but much more difficult to attempt to understand the reasons behind those actions. It's easy to to find someone's faults when we know nothing of their strengths.

Circle of Secrets was not the book I expected at all. It turned out to be much different and much more than I expected. I certainly did not expect to find a book with such personal application for myself. Reading the story of Shelby and her mother felt like an entire childhood worth of Psychotherapy. I felt like Kimberly Little took all the emotions I never understood about myself and laid them out in the form of Shelby Jane Allemond. I cried through every page of the book and came away feeling like I had been healed.

Circle of Secrets is an amazing book. While focusing on the spooky mystery Shelby is trying to uncover the author very subtly and very carefully works a healing spell on Shelby's family. As we share in Shelby's journey, we as readers find ourselves caught up in the healing spell as well.

Be sure to visit Kimberly Griffiths Little at her website to learn more about her, her books, and her upcoming works!