Set in Santa Barbara, California during World War II, Emily Eleanor Walcott’s story opens when she is eight. As a young girl, she realizes her mother Veronica keeps secrets and lies to hide them. As Emily’s story unfolds, her mother slips into alcoholic depression, neglects her daughters, mysteriously disappears and returns without explanation. Her parents divorce and marry others. Her stepmother moves in with her cruel son, who bullies Emily and her younger sister.
All The Secret Things reveals Emily’s pain growing up between two sets of parents, of not feeling safe with either family, and wondering about the secrets that divide and nearly destroy them all.
Emily’s story is also heartwarming as she demonstrates her resilience and courage. Through the support of caring friends and teachers who believe in her, she succeeds in school and graduates from college as a single mother.
As a young woman she develops severe anemia and needs a blood transfusion, but due to her rare type a matching donor among family members must be found, and the secrets surrounding her birth must be told. The ‘secret keepers’ in her family hinder her attempts to uncover the truth. They love her so enormously they want to protect her from discovering her real identity that could break her heart.
All the Secret Things reveals the complexities of family secrets and lies, and even murder. It explores sibling cruelty and the painful differences that can separate daughters from mothers. As Emily and various family members tell her story, her healing journey begins. Through it all she discovers the gracious gifts of forgiveness and redemption. She develops deep and lasting friendships, discovers the power of faith and hope, and recognizes that family bonds are not always formed by birth or blood-but by love.