We have all had moments, in times of crisis and struggle, when we escape and pretend that we were somewhere, or somebody else. I think most girls can see an reflection of themselves at thirteen in the character of Carrie, the imaginative heroine of Kelley Heyne's junior novel, The Locket's Secret. Her story is one of mourning and struggle, as well as of self-discovery and faith in hard times, as Carrie finds adventure and comfort in her make believe world, where she is known as Princess Caritas.
The story begins with Carrie and the rest of her lively, Catholic, homeschool family moving across country to Green Bay Wisconsin. In dealing with her situation, Carrie makes up a story in which she is the lovely and bold heroine. As she struggles to deal with moving, making new friends, and accepting a recent tragic loss, the story of Caritas becomes less and less of a form of escapism and more a mirror of Carrie's own life.
The initial picture we get of Carrie-- a disconnected, sulky, typical teenager in the back of the van-- slowly evaporates as the reader learns the truth of her character and of her past. Keynes is masterful at revealing the back story, layer by layer. From believable characters come believable changes of character, and Keyne accomplishes this beautifully as we see the despondent, aloof Carrie changed by the end of the story into the hopeful and responsible young woman we knew her to be from the start.
This book is excellent for young girls who are ready for heavier reading material but do not yet have the maturity level for say, The Fairy Tale Novels. What impressed me most is that, though the subject matter of the plot is rather heavy (death, mourning, loss, teenage anxiety) the mood remains light and happy, suitable for a young audience, while still being very deep.
The Locket's Secret is a book of intense moral and emotional themes, seen through a positive and hopeful light. It reminds us that the fantasies we invent for ourselves are not merely methods of escape from the pains of reality, but can actually be tool for helping us work through our struggles. Both Carrie and Caritas are engaging, beautiful heroines, bound to captivate any young lady and teach her how to find strength in hard times through imagination, family and Faith