Sharon Hinck’s first novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, is a modern-day romp through suburbia with all its attendant joy - and misery.
Becky Miller, a mom-of-all-trades, operates on all cylinders as she puts her full effort into being a wife, a mother to three young children, a church volunteer, friend, and potential career-woman – all the while trying to uplift her husband, who faces a downsizing in his job. She manages all this through a strong faith in God which,though tested, is the mast she holds onto when the storm of daily life becomes a tempest.
Each chapter begins with our heroine daydreaming that she is some sort of action super-hero able to confront the problems of mankind on her own to save society from all its problems. She is more often than not brought back to reality by the stresses of her everyday life, which she battles with the same vigor as she does in her daydreams.
The novel is a fun, breezy read akin to an oceanside drive with the car-top down. You find yourself enjoying the scenery as it passes you by. It is not a cheap, throw-a-way read, though; tough topics are handled in a sensitive manner. The author deals with issues like illness, financial strain, divorce, self-doubt, faith in God, raising children, making a marriage work, and career choices.
The writing is precise and her unique turns of phrase sparkle, as in the following…
…A mental grocery list spun through my mind like an asteroid until sleep claimed me.
Humorous scenes are mingled with scenes of soul-searching and worry. In essence, the novel is life as we all live it, varied… and the same… as time passes. The author skillfully treats Becky Miller’s life as one large salad – which is tossed and served – each plate’s assortment different, just as our lives can be each day.
…My life had become theatre of the absurd. Non sequiturs. Random entrances and exits by the actors. Snappy dialogue with an esoteric meaning that escaped me.
…November strained like a teenager at college for the first time – wild with energy and freedom.
…Doreen’s whole world was shattered…I could imagine a view of her world from space as fault lines cracked deep toward the core of the planet. Huge wedges broke away and spun off into the galaxy until nothing remained except debris.
At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, the novel is probably more appealing to women who are in the same situation as Becky Miller is. Women who can identify with her juggling family, husband, friends, career, education, crisis, and illness all at the same time. As a comedian once said, “a woman knows the hopes and dreams and hurts and sorrows and all the intricacies of her children…a man is vaguely aware that there are short people in the house.”
Sharon Hinck, through Becky Miller, knows the hopes and dreams and sorrows and intricacies of her children…and of all those she loves. We, through this novel, come to understand and appreciate those, who like her, do our worrying for us.