Review: Hidden Places by Lynn Austen

Lynn Austen never ceases to amaze me. I’m almost positive I said that in another post, but I’ll say it again anyway. Because it’s true.

For me vacation time is prime time for reading. The usual rule of thumb for the number of books packed is three books. One to read first, the second to read next, and the third incase the second one proves itself to be an unworthy read.

On this particular vacation Lynn Austen’s Hidden Places was my first read. (We have yet to see if the second one is any good…) No Lynn Austen book has ever been unenjoyable (is that a word?) for me to read, and Hidden Places was no exception.

         Hidden Places is the story Eliza Rose Wyatt. Well actually it’s the story of Eliza, Aunt Batty, Gabe, and a few other people. When it boils down to it Hidden Places is a novel about secrets and the affect they have on others.

Eliza has never revealed her past to anyone in Dear Springs (the town she lives in); even her late husband had no knowledge of the details of her past. So when an “angel”, as her children call this mysterious hobo who seems to have an uncanny knowledge of the orchard, arrives at Wyatt’s Orchard Eliza is skeptical. With the help of Aunt Batty, the “crazy” relation who lives next door, and Gabe (the “angel”) the ice surrounding Eliza’s heart slowly begins to melt.

Eliza, however, isn’t the only one with secrets. As Gabe adjusts to life on the orchard, the reality of his own past begins to come unveiled. The question is: are they brave enough to be open and honest about the hidden places in their hearts?

           Hidden Places carries a great truth about lying. (How ironic does that sound?) God makes it clear to the Israelites, and to us, through the Ten Commandments, that lying is a sin. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) In other words, don’t lie to your neighbor. (Or about your neighbor for that matter.)

What’s important to remember about the Ten Commandments is the fact that they’re not just a set of rules to follow. They all stem from the commands to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you love God, then you’ll love your neighbor. And if you love your neighbor, then you won’t lie to them.

Lying only creates heartache and distrust. You can’t have a functional relationship based on lies. It’s simply impossible. And that’s the message of Hidden Places. Eliza and Gabe both learn that the lies they’ve told have caused a whole lot of hurting. And the one solitary person, who can stir their hearts to reveal the truth, is God.

Because the key to telling the truth is loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And in return, He loves us more than we could ever even begin to imagine.

All of that to say, I highly recommend Hidden Places. It’s a beautiful book with a beautiful message. The writing, character development, plot, and setting are all superb. I hope that by reading it, we may learn to investigate those hidden places in our own hearts.

 

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All images in collage are from Pinterest.

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