When twenty-something New Yorker Rebecca Strand learns (her father's deathbed confession) that she has a twenty-six-year-old half-sister she never knew existed, she can't wait to meet her. With her lawyer boyfriend's protests ringing in her ears ("She's just going to want her share of his million-dollar estate!"), Rebecca drives to a small coastal town in Maine with the 26 letters her father wrote to Joy every year on her birthday. All alone in the world, Rebecca knocks on Joy Jayhawk's door, having no idea what to expect.
Turns out Joy, the separated mother of a little boy (Rebecca has a nephew!), isn't very interested in the "father" who turned his back on her existence from day one–or her "sister." But Rebecca is so determined to establish family bonds with Joy that she doesn't go home . . . and finds herself being welcomed into small life by some very loveable, quirky characters, including a sexy carpenter named Theo . . .
Thoughts: This is such a sweet heart-warming story about life and love, and takes the drama of ex-wives and love-sick ladies to a whole new level, giving it life and plausibility at the same time. How did Melissa do it? No idea. But she won me over.
This book asks a lot of questions about marriage, relationships, and love. Does the author answer all the questions? Not really—but she answers the ones that she needs to, and as for others, she lets her readers decide the answers for themselves. THE SECRET OF JOY makes the reader think about what forgiveness really is, what it means to love someone, and the responsibility of loving them.
Characters: Joy was my favorite character. She was a rough-tough-don’t-mess-with-me-you-cant-make-me-cry kinda girl. She held her facade well (most of the time) but when she showed her true colors, she was a gem. Michael, Rebecca’s boyfriend, was a bit of a confusing character. At first I really liked him but as the story went on, I got fed up with him and kept thinking “Rebecca, dump him, please.” I almost cried when Rebecca’s dad died. These characters in this story will beckon you.
Writing: Melissa held me captive with her unique writing style. It was relaxed and smooth, and flowed well, something that could be read aloud without too much problem.
Content: There was only an occasional swear word, and some mention of sex, but no details.
Recommendation: Ages 14+ to anyone craving a light-hearted sit-by-the-fire-with-tea kind of book.
**Thank you to Sarah from Hachette for supplying my review copy!**
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