The Secret (Seasons of Grace, Book 1)

by Beverly Lewis

Paperback, 2009



Call number



Bethany House Publishers (2009), Edition: 1st, 364 pages

Original publication date



In the seemingly ordinary Amish home of Grace Byler, secrets abound. Why does her mother weep and wander deep in the night? And why does her father refuse to admit something is dreadfully wrong? Then, in one startling moment, the quiet life Grace has known is irrevocably altered, leaving her to question all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment. - Back cover.


Original language


Physical description

364 p.; 8.38 inches


0764205714 / 9780764205712

User reviews

LibraryThing member Leeny182
I was pleasantly surprised by Beverly Lewis's book. I did not really know what to expect after I found out that I was receiving her book. When I requested it I thought it sounded interesting but it wasn't until after I found out that I was getting it that I did more research on the author. She has
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a large collection of religious oriented books which didn't seem to appealing to me. But even though this book is based on the Amish community it isn't overly religious.

The story is primarily told from Grace's point of view but does go back and forth between several of the other characters. Lewis doesn't over do it or make it confusing at all with the switches like some authors I've read have done. Its a simple story about an Amish woman named Lettie who leaves her family without really explaining why. Her family struggles with day to day life and conflicting emotions after her departure. Her departure though brings the family closer and especially strengthens Grace's character.

It was a pretty easy read. Some parts were a little slow but I definitely wanted to keep reading to find out what the secret really is. I like that Lewis didn't really give it away, she led up to it and it wasn't until a few chapters prior that I had a good hunch of what the secret was. So it was nice not to be able to predict it and be left wanting to read more in order to find out. I am under the impression that this is going to be a series so I cant wait to find out what happens next!!!
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LibraryThing member rawlski
I was excited to receive this book after reading the synopsis on the Early Reviewers website. This excitement was short lived. The Secret is the story of an Amish family, a mother who leaves them and a girl on the outside who was diagnosed with a terrible disease and runs to the Amish community to
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clear her head. I was frustrated by the novel because while I understand that this was the first of a series, little was resolved in the novel and the stories weren’t tied together very well. The book was very slow and predictable. I don’t think that I’ll pick up the next book in the series.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Grace's mamma Lettie has been acting strangely ever since meeting an old friend at a barn raising. Grace doesn't know who the woman is, but Lettie went off with her to talk for some time, and has been morose and weepy ever since but won't tell anyone what's wrong. Does Lettie have some secret she
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can't share with the rest of her family?

The first in the "Seasons of Grace" series starts typically with a Prologue narrated in first-person by a young woman, Grace. Set in Bird-in-Hand and switching back and forth between the Amish community there and the point of view of an "Englisher," Heather, Lewis sets up a new story of family secrets and faith set in an Amish community. I look forward to reading more of the series.
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LibraryThing member InsatiableB
The Secret came to me in the mail a few weeks ago (via librarything Early Reviewers)and I dove into it immediately. Pleasure reading has been slow going since I'm in the throes of Spring semester at the moment.
This is the first installment in Beverly Lewis' new series Seasons of Grace, it releases
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officially on March 31, 2009, so I'm getting my review out just before the big day.
Seasons of Grace is another series about Amish life, taking place in Pennsylvania. Grace is an Amish girl in her early 20's, committed to marry a serious Amish man in the near future. When her mother disappears without any word of her whereabouts her world is rocked and she begins to question things she had always taken for granted.
There is a parallel story about an Englisher, Heather, also in her early 20's, visiting Amish country because of a cancer diagnosis that has put her life to a halt.
This book moved a bit slow and was light reading - as all Lewis' stories are - but just what I needed at the moment. I am drawn into Grace's story and am anxious to know when the next novel will be released. Hopefully I can get another advance copy? ;)
I can tell I'll be enjoying this series.
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LibraryThing member kashicat
Here’s my basic review: I loved this book.

I had read the blurb, so I knew a little of what would develop in Beverly Lewis’s latest Amish novel, The Secret, due out in April. But having this foreknowledge or not, I’d have kept reading. The action in the book was pretty low key, but that’s
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what you’d expect, since the plot features an Amish family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Yet the story was sweet without being saccharine, a tale of a culture – personified by Grace Byler, the main character – that values community, good food, hearty work, and decent living.

I couldn’t put it down. Despite the rather strict rules in this community, you recognize the complexity of the relationships and the depths of the people’s feelings. And yes, you also see the difficulty these rules put the folk in, when their teaching against being preoccupied with “self” collides with a genuine crisis where they need, most of all, to be comforted.

You become truly interested in the members of the Byler family, wondering how they will cope with the crisis that strikes them, centred on their mother’s secret, and how they’ll choose their futures. The Amish way of life is presented not so much as “old-fashioned” as it is simpler, more willing to share otherss joys and burdens than the one we readers come from. Reading about this community, you never feel condescending toward it. There might even be a little envy.

The book follows two plotlines: the main one, with Grace and her Amish family, and another featuring Heather, a young woman from the “outside” world, who faces a troubling medical diagnosis. At first these plots seem completely unrelated (apart from interesting parental parallels). But the stories finally begin to intersect near the end of the book, and you realize that they are going to intertwine more and more deeply.

But not in this book, not yet. Because I discovered, at the end, that this is only the first in a new series for Lewis: the “Seasons of Grace.” It’s a measure of her accomplishment that when I realized that the story will continue into other books, my first thought was, “Oh no, we have to wait to find out what happens now??”

I already can’t wait for the next book in this series. And having discovered Beverly Lewis and her novels, I want to read more. Although Lewis is a Christian novelist, the Christianity, in The Secret at least, was not preachy or in your face. The story of the people themselves was first and foremost, and never used as an excuse to sermonize or condemn.

Meanwhile, I have a “a secret” of my own: my Mennonite ancestors moved up to Canada a century or so ago – from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The way this lovely region and its people were presented in the story made me feel the way Heather feels: that some day I must spend some time there, even if it’s just to walk and breathe.
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LibraryThing member rjmoren
The Secret takes a whole new look at the Amish and their lifestyle. I love reading Beverly Lewis and her take on Amish country. The Secret focuses on the mother in the home and her eldest daughter's perspective on the family dynamics. Lettie leaves home and her daughter Grace is the one that
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receives her mother's good-bye note. Lettie's departure is a mystery and the entire family does not know what to do. Grace believes she must find her mother quickly before her father and siblings lives fall apart. It has been hard to put this one down.
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LibraryThing member dara85
I thought this was a good book and look forward to the next installment in the series. This didn't have as much mystery in it as her Abram's Daughters series which I think is her best series.
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
This is a typical Beverly Lewis novel about Amish folks and their troubles. If you're fascinated with the Amish, you will enjoy it. Otherwise, I think that they all begin to blur together after one has read a few. The Shunning still stands out in my mind as the best Amish novel Lewis ever wrote.
LibraryThing member BinnieBee
I was an early reviewer for this book and just finished reading it. I cannot wait until the next book in this series comes out, and the ones after that! It was absolutely a great books, with fully formed characters that you really care about. It is a true artist that can make you understand and
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care so much about so many different characters in one book. You do not just want Grace or Lettie to be happy, but you want all the other characters to be healthy, happy and to be able to fulfill all their hopes and dreams and be at peace with themselves and their loved ones.
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LibraryThing member ctiker
This is my first Beverly Lewis book - and I found the juxtaposition of the Amish and the English worlds to be very interesting. I've always been fascinated by the Amish culture, and it was very interesting to see inside an Amish family living in the 21st century and how they adapt some amenities of
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"English" American life (like riding in vans driven by non-Amish drivers to go long distances or supplementing their agricultural lifestyle with jobs in shops) to fit into their structured society.

The dual stories of Grace, the young, dutiful Amish daughter who helps out the family both with her earnings in a health food shop as well as with her many chores at home, and Heather, the young educated graduate student with the frightening diagnosis, play up how differently these young women have been brought up.

It may be my bias as someone outside the Amish world, but I found Grace's reluctance to delve into family history or to ask difficult, emotional questions of her grandparents and parents to be too childlike to be believable in a woman who is about to be married - even in such a society.

Heather's actions were easier for me to relate to, and I only wish we had more of her story. I guess, as intended, I'll need to read the next books in the series to satisfy my curiosity!
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LibraryThing member itbgc
I really did not care for this book at all. The characters were not believable, the plot was predictable, and the story moved along at a snail's pace.

I especially didn't like the endless rehashing of the main characters' thoughts. For instance, how many times can one bear to hear the father of the
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story inwardly complain about his aching neck?

I will not be reading any more books in this series.
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LibraryThing member hammockqueen
This book started slow as the characters were created. I think it took too long and if I had not been early reviewing this book I would have put it down. As it is, it became a worthy read and I did enjoy it. I am left wondering what will happen to the Amish folks Grace, her mom Lettie,
her broken
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father Judah.
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LibraryThing member emers0207
The first book in Lewis' new series, Seasons of Grace, tells the story of the Byler family. Members of the Amish, they are goat farmers in Pennsylvania. Their seemingly tranquil lives begin to unravel when the mother, Lettie, abruptly runs away in the middle of the night. The book focuses on the
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struggle, particularly for the eldest daughter, Grace, as the grapple with trying to make sense of Lettie's mysterious disapperance.

Finally Beverly Lewis is getting back to writing a series more like her Abram's Daughters. Her last few books have, in my opinion, fallen into the unfortunate category of Christian Romance. Not there is anything wrong with that if that's your type of literature, however I find that genre seems to be plagued by one basic, predictable story plot. That is, boy and girl fall in love but find themselves separated by faith differences, then through tragedy or struggle the person in the "wrong" finally sees the light and "correctly" accepts Jesus. The two can now be together and they live happily ever after. This is exacty what Lewis has been doing for her last few novels. In The Secret, Lewis appears to once again try for a more universal appeal by focusing on a story involving characters who lives are definied by their faith (in this case the Amish), but the plot doesn't revolve around their faith. While she does reuse old material such as unplanned teenage pregnancy, adoption and broken engagements this book is by far her best in awhile.
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LibraryThing member kibosa
This was the first Christian book about the Amish I have read. Once I got used to the language, the book flowed very well. I found the story engaging yet predictable. It was easy to see from the beginning why Lettie was leaving and the "surprise" twist was assumed. I would still want to read the
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next book in the series as the characters are very likeable.
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LibraryThing member akowen
The gorgeous Amish girl on the cover with her perfect makeup did not make me want to pick up this book right away, but the story was not as tacky as I imagined it would be. The hardship that the Amish mother, Lettie, has placed upon her family when she mysteriously walks out on them in Lancaster,
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Pennsyvlania, is portrayed heartbreakingly well. Her "secret" is revealed very late in the story, making for suspenseful reading. This book is the first in a new series by Beverly Lewis called "Seasons of Grace." It is clear that there is more story to tell.
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LibraryThing member cherryblossommj
I am taking out the book mark at page 265. I just cannot continue. Nothing pleasant has happened so far in the entire more than two hundred and fifty pages minus one paragraph. Many things are going on, yet every single one is depressing with no reprieve. I have read a handful of reviews so far
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that love the story and the presentation of the Amish lives through the novel. This book for me just is not happening. In the past, I have read several titles by Beverly Lewis and loved them. This one is just dull and bland and I cannot continue it. There are too many dozens of books to be read. I spent three days and more pages and effort than I should have. Some already have, and some will love this book, but I do not and I do not recommend it. It could turn around, but you need some relief in the hours of depression and pain and this so far has not had it.
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LibraryThing member cherryblossommj
I am taking out the book mark at page 265. I just cannot continue. Nothing pleasant has happened so far in the entire more than two hundred and fifty pages minus one paragraph. Many things are going on, yet every single one is depressing with no reprieve. I have read a handful of reviews so far
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that love the story and the presentation of the Amish lives through the novel. This book for me just is not happening. In the past, I have read several titles by Beverly Lewis and loved them. This one is just dull and bland and I cannot continue it. There are too many dozens of books to be read. I spent three days and more pages and effort than I should have. Some already have, and some will love this book, but I do not and I do not recommend it. It could turn around, but you need some relief in the hours of depression and pain and this so far has not had it.
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LibraryThing member theeclecticreview
This is the first book in Beverly Lewis' series, "Seasons of Grace" and it is clear from the ending (which was not satisfying for me) that the story continues on.

This story is about two young women, Amish Grace Byler and graduate student Heather Nelson who have to face difficult decisions in their
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lives. Grace needs to find out why her mother, Lettie, ran off in the middle of the night with no explanation to her family and she is conflicted about her feelings for her beau, Henry. Heather is in denial about her cancer diagnosis and her fiance, serving in Iraq, has broken up with her after meeting a fellow woman soldier overseas.

I have to say the book is pretty depressing, but somehow it kept me reading with the suspense of finding out why Lettie ran off without telling her family.
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LibraryThing member southernsassygirl
While this book in no way is as good as some of Ms. Lewis' earlier works, I have to say that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. I've read several reviews that practically bashed it, saying that it's too depressing, that there are too many characters to follow,
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that there are loose ends not resolved, etc. I have a few things to say about each one of those points.

First of all, yes, the book is slightly depressing, but I don't think she meant for this particular series to start off as happy. Yes, the mother leaves her husband and her children, and none of them understand why. They are the ones left to pick up the shreds of their dignity among their community. None of that is pleasant, but that's the story Ms. Lewis chose to write. If you really want to see Amish fiction that's depressing, look into the Sisters of Holmes County series by Wanda Brunstetter....hands down the worst Amish series I have read to date, and I've read several.

Secondly, the characters. I didn't think there were too many to follow; it seemed to be an adequate amount to keep it interesting, but not too many to keep up with. With that said, the only complaint that I have were a few characters that had names that were too similar. Martin (Puckett) and Marian (Reihl) look very similar when you're only reading their first name, as do Adam and Andy, two other secondary characters. I think a little bit more creativity could've been used when deciding on the names.

Lastly, yes, there are loose ends at the end of the book, but that's the author's preference. Not every author is going to have a complete resolution at the end of every one of their books. There are several storylines that are going on, and they can't all be covered in one book. Otherwise, there would be complaints that the story was too rushed. I guess you can't please everybody all of the time, much less part of the time. Personally, I didn't mind that the story ended the way it did. The actual "secret" of the book was revealed, but how it will play out will have to wait until books 2 & 3.

I am quite excited to read the rest of the series, mainly because the storyline is outside the norm for Amish fiction. Women just do not walk out on their families in the Amish world. I'm not expecting happy resolutions all around when it's all said and done, but I do think it will be some great reading....I'm really looking forward to it.
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LibraryThing member TammyPhillips
This novel was full of mental despair. Mom was despairing over her uncommunicative husband, grandma was fretting over daughter's angst, daughter was laboring under the weight of carrying the family, father was silently brooding or despondant....and the list goes on. I read to the end thinking that
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there must be a happy ending, but there wasn't. The only reason I am granting two stars instead of one is the fact that the story did make me want to read to the end. Yet, the end brought naught but more of the same.
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LibraryThing member mrsjason
I'm always excited when Beverly Lewis releases a new book. In my opinion, she's the standard for Amish fiction and I usually compare all others to her. I feel like I've learned a lot of the Amish culture through her books and I especially enjoy when she allows English culture to blend with the
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Amish. This book showcases the lifestyle of an Amish family who appears to have it all on the outside, but inside is secretly hurting. Grace seems to pick up that there's something not quite right with her parents, but since their culture doesn't allow for straightforward questioning, she's usually left in the dark. Heather's story was a nice interlude in between Grace and Lettie's tale. I enjoyed reading about her life especially since she was from the Williamsburg area near my hometown. I wasn't sure exactly the connection was between her and Grace and Lettie but I think I might have an inkling. While I enjoyed reading this book, I felt it was a bit predictable. About halfway through the book, I guessed what was going to happen and I was right. I enjoyed the story but I felt that it's a plot that has been done many times before and even feels like the reverse of one of Lewis's own books. I can understand the feelings that Grace's mother might have been going through but it wasn't really fair of her to leave the rest of her family in the dark. I mean they have no idea what's going on, and then she just gets up and leaves with only a note. Her family is totally confused and unaware of Lettie's past. The first half of the story seems to build up to Lettie's secret but since I guessed it halfway, it felt like a letdown. I also have a pretty big feeling I can guess as to the plot of the next book and how the story continues. I'm hoping I'm wrong, because I really dislike predictable plots. As I said before, Beverly Lewis is a favorite author of mine and I will be reading the next book. I just hope that she will prove me wrong!
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LibraryThing member Maydacat
Beverly Lewis gives us an interesting look inside the Amish community and the problems which plague one of the families in that community. Wife and mother Lettie Byler is becoming more secretive and wanders off alone at night, weeping at unknown sorrows. The day before she runs away, she warns her
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daughter Grace to think twice before she marries, not to marry a reticent man, because it leads to unhappiness. With her mother still missing weeks later, Grace is filled with uncertainty. Should she break off her engagement to quiet Henry? Should she try to find her mother? Does she really want to know the reasons behind her mother’s disappearance? This first installment in the Seasons of Grace trilogy illustrates that the Plain life is anything but simple, and though not fancy, it is filled with complicated, life-changing problems. Well written with engaging characters and plot twists, this audio version will captivate you with its magnificent performance. Be sure to have the second installment on hand, because you will want to start it as soon as you finish The Secret.
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LibraryThing member lilwolfmisty
Very good beginning to a new series about the Amish in Lancaster, PA
LibraryThing member JenniferRobb
I have read Beverly Lewis books before and usually enjoy them. I would rate this one as merely okay.

I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator's voice came out sounding too little-girlish for my liking. I felt it tainted some of the story and made certain sections sound like a spoiled
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brat was saying them--I'm not sure that was the intent of the author.

Early on in the book, much is made of Lettie having a secret. In fact, it was hinted at so often that I wished the author would either just let us readers in on the secret so we'd know (even if the other characters didn't) or just reveal it so we could move on.

We do eventually learn Lettie's secret (or at least part of it), but there are other plot points that aren't resolved.

Will Lettie return to her family on her own? Will her daughter Grace go searching for her--and if Grace does find her, will she convince Lettie to come home? What happened to the baby? (I have a suspicion on that, but only reading further in the series will know if my suspicion is correct.) Will Heather's father build a house on the Lancaster County land he purchased? Will Heather get treatment for her illness? Will she ever get to see the holistic healer?

Just too many unanswered plot points for me to give this more than an average rating.
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