Jennifer Kelland Perry
Samantha and Veronica Cross had to start fresh when they moved with their mother Darlene from Newfoundland’s Calmer Cove to St. John’s. Attending a new high school and making friends were their first challenges and soon they discovered the charms of Ben Swift, a handsome local boy with his own troubles. As the sisters rivaled for his attention, jealousy and misunderstandings threw the Cross family off balance into a spiral of disaster.
Calmer Girls is Perry’s first coming-of-age novel about the Cross sisters. Calmer Secrets picks up in 1998, four years later. If they thought the teenage years were turbulent, they are now learning that relationships in their twenties can be just as complicated.
Veronica is a single mom to three-year-old Henry and Samantha is an art student at Grenfell, seven hours away. Their old friend Ben may be far away at the moment, but he’s on the minds of both girls, for different reasons, and it will be a long time before the sisters forget what happened. Veronica copes by finding, then quickly discarding boyfriends. And while on break, Samantha takes up with her old friend, Kalen O’Dea. He’s charming and gorgeous, and fronts a popular cover band in town, but there’s something puzzling about his behavior. Veronica warns her, but who is she to give advice?
The real elephant in the room, however, is Darlene’s drinking. She’s met a new man, Cash, who owns the Bambury Tavern and the two work side-by-side. He’s a great guy, but can he see the problem? How long can the family look the other way? In addition, painful secrets about the Calmer sisters’ past are coming to the surface. Are these secrets best confronted or pushed back down?
Calmer Secrets is an excellent story about the difficult and unsettled years that are the twenties. As with all quality writing, Perry’s storytelling flair is enhanced by her descriptive talent. Reading about St. John’s makes me want to move there and, thanks to Perry’s introductions, I feel like I already have some friends in town. As with Calmer Girls, Calmer Secrets includes many enjoyable and relatable details about the 1990s, as well as local customs, foods and phrases, giving the Calmer series a unique brand. In addition, Perry integrates themes of family, friendship, love and second chances, giving the reader a great deal to think about afterwards. I especially enjoyed seeing her characters transform and step up when they are needed most. And an extra treat are the quotes from classic literature at the beginning of each chapter, a smart detail that ties her story to larger ideas. I’m looking forward to reading more about the Calmer sisters!
I recommend Calmer Secrets to all readers who like realistic stories about family and community in a friendly and colorful setting.
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Click here for a review of Calmer Girls.