Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Secret Storms - Review & Giveaway

Review by K.T Sullivan

Julie Mannix lived a dream childhood, surrounded by exotic animals her parents collected in their travels. She was part of Philadelphia society, became a debutante, and attended expensive boarding schools. She planned to grow up and become a nun, then a saint, and finally an actress. All went according to plan until she found herself unmarried and pregnant. Her parents treated her condition as an affliction and committed her to a state mental hospital. There she met many people on different journeys in life. Most helped her survive her ordeal. She delivered a healthy baby girl and chose the name Aimee. Julie was released once she signed off on the adoption papers. She later married the love of her life, Aimee’s father Frank, and had two more children. She never forgot her first born and dreamed they would meet some day. Aimee was rechristened Kathy and joined a wonderful couple. They adopted two boys. Life turned tragic when Kathy’s mother succumbed to breast cancer. At six years old, Kathy became the woman of the house. But not for long. Her father remarried a she-devil. She mentally and physically abused the children until the day she left. Her effect on the family lingered as her overspending drained their college savings. The stepmother blurted out Kathy was adopted and set her search for her birth parents into motion. Kathy’s father lost his job and almost lost the house.  He provided as best he could and taught his children resilience and independence. Kathy married her high school sweetheart and had a wonderful life. After her father’s death, Kathy found Julie. She and Frank had been very successful in the theater and television. They assured Kathy it hadn’t been their choice to give her up and always loved her.
  
I highly recommend this story of a heartwarming account of love freely given. Julie asks herself ‘What if’ until it hurts. She misses Kathy every day. The adoption left a hole in her heart. She and Frank only dared to dream she would reach out to them someday. When she did, they spared nothing and absorbed her back into their lives. Their family gave Kathy a glimpse of what she had lost and found. Lives filled with the bleakest lows and sky soaring highs. So many easily relatable moments between mothers and daughters. There will be tears of sadness and joy when you read this book. Not to spoil anything, but my favorite part is when Julie decided to “taste” a saint. A truly laugh out loud moment.

Julie Mannix von Zerneck was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She traveled with her parents, living in Paris, on the isle of Capri and in several boarding schools around the world, before settling down at Sunny Hill Farm at the age of nine. There, she lived with a menagerie of animals, including a cheetah and eagle and her very own baby spider monkey. After attending the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC, she became an actress on Broadway, had running roles in three soap operas and guest starred on many TV series. She is married to the TV producer, Frank von Zerneck. They have three children and four grandchildren and reside in Toluca Lake, California, where, for 26 wonderful years, they were the owners of Portrait of a Bookstore. She is a lifelong collector of antiques and antiquarian books.

Kathy Hatfield was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up surrounded by two brothers, twenty-five cousins, and two sets of grandparents in Indialantic, Florida. She attended Florida Atlantic University, after which she worked as a mortgage broker while running her own small business selling men’s neckties. She now teaches World Literature at a high school in Florida where she serves as English department chairman. She and her husband of 25 years live in a quaint beachside community with their two daughters. She is a freelance writer and moderator of theAdoption Reunion Stories Facebook page, which currently has over 2,800 members. She’s a competitive runner and participates in 5k races when she’s not correcting papers.

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