Book Review: The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

  • Title: The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery
  • Author: Amanda Cox
  • Genre: Women’s Fiction, Christian Fiction
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: Yes, if you’re a fan of a clean story with family at its heart and a little bit of romance (and maybe a tear or two at the end).

From Goodreads:

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

My review:

Amanda Cox’s first book, The Edge of Belonging, was one of my favorite reads of 2020. I had high expectations for this, her latest. She met them in fine style.

I enjoy a good dual-timeline story, and this one is very well done. We see the story unfold through the eyes of three women: Glory Ann, her daughter Rosemary, and her granddaughter Sarah. In 1965, Glory Ann finds herself in the family way, and her sweetheart is presumed dead in the war. Her parents, determined not to see their child and their family name ruined, find a young man, Clarence, who agrees to marry Glory Ann and raise the child as his own.

In the present time, Glory Ann and her daughter, Rosemary, are on the outs about the Old Depot Grocery. Rosemary insists it’s time to sell off the store, citing the shiny new supermarket in town as her reason to get while the getting is good, and Glory Ann is equally determined that it is not. Sarah hoped to come home and take up where she left off, running the store with her grandmother and mother. But now she fears that may not happen.

The main theme of the story is secrets. All three of our main characters have them. They keep their secrets to themselves, even when it would benefit them to let others in on what they’re trying to hide. Sometimes I wanted to smack Rosemary, or Sarah, or Glory Ann, for not letting people who might need to know in on their secrets. But the frustration I felt with them for keeping mum on things didn’t lessen the fact that I liked them as characters. Because honestly, haven’t we all kept secrets when it would have been smarter not to?

The men of the story weren’t the main focus, but they were just as important. The whole thing would have fallen apart without Clarence. I mean, imagine agreeing to marry a pregnant young lady and raise her child with someone else as your own. And you stick to your word, and you work to create a family where once just awkwardness existed. I wanted to hear more of Clarence’s story. Bo, Rosemary’s husband, played only a small role, but he was also a good example of a gentle and good man, loving his wife as best as he knew how. And Clay. My goodness, he just made me smile. I was cheering for him and Sarah. (Does it work out? I’m not telling. Read the book.)

And the ending. Y’all, I did not see it coming, and I was straight up bawling. Amanda Cox can surprise me in such a wonderful, emotional way, and she sure did it here. Secrets are revealed, wounds old and new are healed, and the past comes back most unexpectedly.

My thanks to Revell for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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