Joan Jacobson, author
Life is not as orderly as it seems amidst the soybean fields of 1970s Minnesota. Farm girl Raki Pederson finds that out the hard way. Homeless, cast out by her family, carrying a baby and a heavy secret, she redeems her life through the kindness of strangers. There’s the hapless pastor, Sam, followed by a succession of women, each with her own dark secret: Margaret, guilt-ridden from her sister’s death; Carol, a feminist Robin Hood; and Mrs. Anderson, who did the ‘right thing’ only to regret it the rest of her life. Now a successful middle-aged businesswoman, Raki returns to her hometown upon the death of her mentor, Dolores Richter. Concerned that Miss Richter hid the deepest secret of all, Raki seeks the truth and in so doing gains the courage to reveal her own. Set in a time of social, sexual and political upheaval, Small Secrets is an age-old tale of shame and sacrifice, abandonment and rescue, betrayal and forgiveness.
Jacobson’s debut is a vividly detailed mystery with authentic, relatable characters and a sprinkling of romance. Growing up on a farm in central Minnesota, Raki Pederson has her life planned out: she’ll graduate high school, then open her own bakery. But after she gets pregnant and is kicked out of her house after she refuses to reveal the father, she must rely solely on the kindness of strangers to survive. Now, years later, Raki is a former journalist in her mid-40s enjoying her retirement. As she prepares to bury her mentor, Dolores Richter, Raki discovers a secret from Dolores’s past that leads her to wonder: why did Dolores quit law school and go to France for a year? Raki is determined to uncover the truth before revealing to her daughter, Joey, the identity of her father. As Raki, Joey, and Raki’s sister, Lija, sift through Dolores’s belongings, they slowly begin to piece together the mystery of a broken romance. Each of the three main characters are well-rounded, and Raki’s internal struggle emerges organically as she works to piece together the puzzle of Dolores’s past. Jacobson’s enjoyable story demonstrates how secrets are never safe for long—even those taken to the grave. (BookLife)