Becky Miller has a vivid imagination. An expert daydreamer, she will stare off into space and suddenly is tangling with terrorists, battling pirates, solving a mysterious crime or even walking into a time travel machine. In the opening of each chapter, Becky is embroiled in one of these unique adventures and then some sudden event startles her back into reality. The cover design of this book points to Becky's reality. This supermom looks like she's headed to the sky (one of her imaginary daydreams) while a little blonde girl in the bottom lefthand corner is tugging on the cape, symbolic of her fast-paced family life.
In the opening pages, readers learn that Becky Miller is trying to do it all. Three-year-old Kelsey clings to her ankles, seven-year-old Dylan skateboards and baby Micah is wailing for his needs. Becky has been integral in the women's ministry at her local church, while her husband Kevin's company is struggling with their finances and threatening to lay off employees.
With each subsequent chapter her perfect life unravels. Becky suggests to her church leadership that they hire a full-time staff person for the women's ministry. She's thinking of herself as the most likely candidate for the position, but the church requires someone with a college degree --- and Becky is still working part-time on this credential. Meanwhile, Kevin is offered a new position by another company that would require the family to move from their home in Minneapolis to Grand Marais, Minnesota. After the couple weighs the benefits and drawbacks, Kevin turns down the offer only to lose his current job later in the novel when his company downsizes.
Victoria Spring, a well-respected speaker at women's retreats, calls Becky. Due to an unexpected schedule conflict, Spring is looking for a replacement for the Women in Church Work conference where 500 ladies will be attending on the weekend after Thanksgiving. The Millers were already planning a visit from Becky's single and successful sister, Judy, who lives across the country. After painful deliberation Becky decides to turn down this speaking opportunity.
Becky struggles to support Kevin as he searches for a new job. In this different role, Kevin reacts in unexpected ways to his wife and children. In the process he tells Becky that when he was 12, his father lost his job and turned to alcohol; ultimately, one night, his dad drank so much that he hit a tree while driving and was killed. Kevin determined never to become like his father, yet his own problems bring out new feelings.
Written in a fun yet fast-paced style, Sharon Hinck's characters face real challenges and reveal how they cling to their faith in the midst of these obstacles. Readers learn solid truths about how God can work in a family, and each chapter is laced with humor and rich images. I highly recommend THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER and look forward to hearing more from this debut novelist in the very near future.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on July 1, 2006