Secrets And Second Chances
The Things We Knew by Catherine West is a contemporary Christian novel with a twist and I absolutely loved it. It’s about a family, a family with its secrets, its vices and its difficulties. A family who has split apart but when a crisis looms, comes together again, determined to seek out and face the truth.
The novel deals with many different themes, a major one is that of fathers. There is only one father who will not let us down and He is God. Within the novel there are several fathers and none of them are perfect. Nick on his childhood, “eventually he (Nick) got tired of waiting, tired of hoping.” Nick’s father was never there for him, and as an adult, Nick’s father has very little faith in Nick, “when you screw up…” Nick is still waiting for his father’s approval. Sometimes we approach God in this way, trying to work our way into His good books but God loves us just as we are. We are His and we already have His approval, without ever having to work at it.
Very few characters in the novel have a relationship with God. Their relationship with their earthly fathers has coloured their view of God. Lynette has a faith in God. “She still believed God would show her what to do.” However God seems silent to her. “God speaks when He wants to…could be you’re (Lynette) not listening.” How often do we think God is deaf to our cries, when really it is us who are not listening?
Wyldewood is an old family home, only Lynette remains of the siblings, looking after their father. Few of the siblings have perfect lives. They have faced between them, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and they all fear returning home as failures but “home is where you come to heal.” This is a motif for us and God. We do things we feel ashamed of. We mess up. We think God won’t want us but God longs for us to return to Him. He opens His arms. He welcomes us. He extends grace to us to give us what we do not deserve.
Grace is a major theme within the story. One of the brothers finds fame, fortune, alcohol and rehab before returning home. Cecily the housekeeper, wisely says “It’s our job to show him grace.” We must remember that too. When we mess up, we need grace. When others mess up, we must extend grace and not judgement.
Throughout the novel there is the search for truth. Lynette’s mother died when she was twelve years old. Lynette has blocked out all memories of that night. She is now searching for answers, searching for the truth. It comes in snatches. It comes in dreams. What has she blocked out?
Other characters have been concealing the truth too. They need to be honest with themselves and with each other, forgiving one another’s faults.
Memories are linked to the character of Lynette’s father who has early stage Alzheimer’s. It is a cruel disease as he can be perfectly lucid at times and trapped in the past and violent at others. Catherine West sensitively tackles this subject.
The novel deals with the area of dreams. The truth can come through dreams. The truth can appear as nightmares. There is also the laying down of personal dreams to fulfil family obligations. “He (Nick) was a marionette, and his father pulled the strings.” Dreams are important. God wants us to follow our dreams. He wants us to pursue our passions. He does not want to be the God who pulls our strings and stifles our passions.
There are many varied and complex relationships within the novel. Life is never simple but we need to work through difficulties and restore broken relationships.
The Things We Knew was an amazing read. I always love Catherine West’s novels. They have great plot lines and characters and they make you think and examine your heart and relationships. Every time I pick up a Catherine West novel, I know that I will be in for a treat.
Treat yourself today and pick up The Things We Knew.
I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. No monetary compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.