Secret Keepers by Mindy Friddle

Emma Hanley is about to go on a trip of a lifetime.  She’s waited her whole life to see the world.  And then the unexpected happens.  As a result, Emma starts to make decisions on her own and refuses to back down.  This impacts Emma’s family and they are not pleased.

One day a man from the past knocks on Emma’s door.  Jake was her daughter Nora’s first boyfriend and now he’d like to tend Emma’s yard.  Jake runs a lawn service that employs people who seem to be down on their luck.  Eventually he hires Emma’s son and grandson.  Bobby (son) is a bit of a savant but also struggles with schizophrenia that seemed to grow worse after the death of his brother in Viet Nam.  Kyle (grandson) is fourteen and is feeling frustrated living under his parents’ careful watch.  In a small way, working for Jake opens up a new world to them.

Jake soon finds his lawn service in demand all around the small town of Palmetto. One of his workers starts to plant an amazing flower in all the gardens they work on. People are thrilled with the resulting blooms and the effect they have when smelled. A specialist is called upon to explain the what and why about this magical flower. He turns out to be a man that can teach Emma about  more  than just the flower. He can help her discover secrets about herself she hadn’t faced in the past thereby allowing her to find a wonderful future.

There is so much more to this quiet novel.  I really liked the atmospheric story of people who thought life may have passed them by.   It’s a hopeful story that would be a good book club selection.  Discussion questions are provided.

Review copy from Picador/St. Martin’s Press via LibraryThing Early Reviewers