Symphony of Secrets is one of her newer publications, out just this year. Amy Johnson is a single mom of a teen-age daughter. She teaches music lessons and suddenly realizes her dream of performing when an opening for a flutist comes up in the Minneapolis Symphony. She had had to abandon that dream as a student at Juilliard who found herself unexpectedly pregnant and abandoned by the baby’s father, and now she is thrilled to have the opportunity to pursue it.
Meanwhile her daughter seems to be abandoning her own musical talent for cheer leading. Amy doesn’t feel she quite fits in with other cheer leading moms, but she joins in the activities for her daughter Clare’s sake.
Amy knows she is not a “normal” mother in many respects, and she deals with the angst of that, the fact that Clare seems to be moving away from her with her different interests and new friends and now even an interest in God, Whom Amy doesn’t think would have any interest in her.
Meanwhile, things are going wrong with the symphony orchestra — financial problems, jealousies, even acts of sabotage. Amy has a penchant for seeing mysteries where there are none, but does she have a real, live case on her hands this time?
Overall I have liked everything I have read of Sharon’s but I would have to admit this one was not my favorite of the five of her novels I have read. I think a lot of it had to do with it taking me a while to warm up to the main character. Amy’s tendency to find “mysteries” without thinking of the plausible explanations (like assuming a student’s syringe is for illegal drugs rather than insulin) irritated me at first, though I realized it was a set-up for the conflict of the real mystery behind the goings-on of the symphony and Amy’s not being taken seriously when she thinks someone is behind it all. She’s also pretty tightly-wound, and, to an outsider, would probably seem snappy and standoffish. But we do get inside her heart and see the reasons for her actions, and I felt I “befriended” her over time. I even have her tendency toward reserve and closing-in, and though the Lord has helped me with that a lot over the years, I could empathize with Amy in that respect.
Sharon also does a good job portraying what the thought of a relationship with God might look like to an unbeliever, how unreal and even frightening it might be at first, with a gradual dawning of a yearning to know more.
The novel does have Sharon’s trademarks of underlying humor and the genuineness of her character’s struggles. In all of her books, whether general fiction, “mom-lit,” or fantasy, she deftly captures the internal struggles and issues a character faces in a way that touches something real in my own heart. And that’s what keeps me reading her books! I hope you will give them a try, too.