Coffee Rings
Three Women, One Tragic Event, Nineteen Years Later, Secrets Surface...
by Yvonne Lehman
Barbour Publishing, 2004

Reviewed by Joy Wadsworth

     This is a story about faith, forgiveness, and how secrets can destroy lives.
     A group of young Christian college women who grew up together share a tragic experience, the exact nature of which is a secret to the reader until well into the book. The event forever negatively affects all of their lives, as they never talk about it with anyone, or each other, and each lives in a continual state of confusion, guilt, and shame. Nineteen years later, as each of their lives seems to be spinning out of control with other secrets, the mother of one of the girls is dying of cancer and wants some answers before she dies. She also has her secrets which have affected her life and others’ lives.
     She gathers the women together to talk about their shared secrets (not her own) and the process gives each of them some of their own answers, understanding and freedom from their guilt and shame.
     In the telling of this story, at least four different women have to come to terms with pregnancy situations. The men involved seem only peripherally aware of any of this. One married couple desperately want and child and find themselves at odds about the possibility of adoption. A young birth mother must decide whether to raise her child herself or relinquish her baby for adoption. None of the women in the various situations over the years knows of the others’ plights or decisions.
     Although a bit “preachy” at times for some readers’ tastes, the author does a good job of keeping the reader from guessing the various secrets until almost the end of the book, and makes the characters believable. Their thoughts, emotions, and reactions are realistic in response to their circumstances. The message is about God’s faithfulness and forgiveness, but also about the dangers of keeping secrets and letting them fester, and the dilemmas of having to decide when it’s appropriate to disclose a secret and when it would be more hurtful to do so. This book has some real surprises for the reader.

Excerpted from the July 2006 edition of the Operation Identity Newsletter
© 2006 Operation Identity