Single Parent Book Review: Children of Secrets

By: Lander Duncan



I’ve always been fascinated with the personal and historical tales of families that built the United States. A friend of mine recommended Children of Secrets – an autobiographical novel set in the backdrop of the Deep South in the 1940’s.

I didn’t expect Children of Secrets to strike such a nerve as the life of the heroine, Abigail, is scrutinized, dissected and judged. And, as a twenty-something, white, single mother certainly would not have expected to identify so closely with the pride and fears of a black woman who died twelve years before I was born. Children of Secrets is a vivid recollection of the dark, violent childhood years that shaped the lives of Abigail and her three sons.

Why would this book strike so close to home?

Throughout much of the story, Abigail raises her three boys as a single mother.

Seduced by a Tuskegee cadet, the 15 year old Abigail pays the ultimate price for choosing to raise her child with the man she fell in love with. Shortly after she moves in with CJ, the father of their child reports for active duty and is stationed miles away. Abigail is forced to restart a life in a new town, where she faces many cultural collisions as she goes through pregnancy and child rearing on her own – save a few brief visits from CJ before shipping off to World War 1.

While training and serving his country, CJ missed the birth of all three of his children. Upon returning home, dealing with depression, humiliation and bitterness, CJ is detached from the family that blossomed in his absence. The ultimate tragedy strikes as CJ is targeted and killed by the Ku Klux Klan and Abigail barely escapes the torturous night with her life, her children and a few small mementos of her life.

After suffering a series of breakdowns and living with her own demons, Abigail raised her children in the best way that she could; leaving the world wishing she had ‘loved them better.’ How would her children turn out, living with the secrets of their youth?

We all know the stresses that come with living in a single parent home – by choice or by circumstance. How would you be prepared to deal with…

Teenage pregnancy…
Rape…
War…
Death…
Racism…
Murder…
Poverty…

So, Abigail dealt with the blows that life sent her way. She lived with ultimate fear that we all face, knowing that our ‘best’ may not be good enough.

I admire Abigail’s actions that often brought embarrassment to her sons. There is no doubt that her sacrifices, her pride, her work ethic, her passion – all contributed to the success of all of her boys who have since made their mark on the world as a heart surgeon, academic, research scientist, small business owner and finally author.

Children of Secrets is a captivating autobiographical novel, with such a unique cast of characters that is all too familiar and extraordinary...some who could be sitting across the dining table at your next family reunion.

I would highly recommend that you read Children of Secrets and watch intently for the remaining books in this trilogy.



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