The Secret of the Oak
by Bernadette Crespin

"Would he forgive her? She knew such a thing no longer mattered, because Nick, wherever he was, had moved on. Now it was her turn."

Jamie Donnelly has been in love with Nick Devon for as long as she can remember. At eighteen, she has her entire future mapped out. But when Nick proposes marriage, she eagerly accepts, regardless of her plans. Unbeknownst to Jamie, Nick is harboring a secret that will alter her path and haunt her for the rest of her life. The war in Vietnam is raging, and Nick and her brother, Tony, have enlisted in the Marines. Jamie is determined to endure Nick’s deployment and await his return, but her world unravels with the tragic news that Tony has been killed in battle, and Nick is pronounced Missing in Action. In an attempt to ease her turmoil, she turns to drinking and spirals into an even darker state. Reluctantly, she retreats to her uncle’s ranch to regain sobriety. With the help of a neighbor, she discovers herself again—but also falls in love in the process.

In this compelling novel about the psychological impact of war on soldiers, veterans, and civilians, the author carefully constructs a family saga that addresses loss and grief from all perspectives. The text poignantly presents the Vietnam experience, both in-country and on the homefront, exploring the aftermath of war on the human psyche. Set in a small town on the outskirts of Seattle, the culture and history of the 1960s come to life through authentic characters that provide a snapshot of a family’s emotional journey set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing society. The story eloquently balances the controversial themes of war, race, and infidelity. A gently unfolding plot leaves the reader questioning the outcome until the finale. While the story examines intense subject matter, the essential premise of the novel is a hopeful tale that reveals the ability of love to transcend time.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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