A Book Review of “Jessie’s Secret” by Dorene Meyer.

A Book Review of “Jessie’s Secret” by Dorene Meyer.

Review by Kevin E. Jesmer     12-7-15

back cover


“Jessie Rodreguiz has traveled over two thousand miles into the heart of the Canadian wilderness to attend her brother David’s wedding. She knew he was involved in some kind of undercover job up there.” (from the book cover) She didn’t know the details of his work. They were secret. But she was carrying a secret also, that God would use to lead her to himself.

The main character in the book, “Jessie’s Choice” is Jessie. Jessie has grown up in  New York City. She is a thoroughly modern girl. She came to the remote community of Rabbit Lake, NW Ontario in order to attend a wedding of her brother. She is feeling a lout of place with her city clothes and shoes. She felt awkward walking in forest trails with her “city” shoes on.

Reading the book, I was expecting the vast majority of the characters to be First Nation people. This is what I wanted it to be. But the vast majority of the characters are the extended family of Tom and his wife,Martah and their associates. There are even two doctors from the States. It took me some time to get rid of my own “fixed” expectations on whom the characters should be and simply see them as the author presents them.

One gets a better introduction to the characters of the series Jessie is enjoying wedding preparations. If you read the book, “Rachel’s children” they were all medical staff saving fetuses from an organ harvesting company, years prior. But that is not developed in this book much at all. We are introduced to the secret entrance in the back of the lodge which was their base of operations.

Here is what I can make out about the characters. Jessie’s brother, David was marrying Carolee.  David was a doctor. Carolee was Tom’s daughter. Tom and Martha were the owners of the lodge and the one’s who brought are bringing all of these people, from so many different backgrounds and families together. Carolee had a young son, when she was a single mom. I am not sure if Carolee is adopted or not. She was even asked to be part of the wedding party as a bride maid. Tom, the lodge owner is African American, a retired professional basketball player. He had adopted kids and family in Chicago. The people are family by adoption and association in the rescue mission.

Colin is a First Nation young man. In his book he might be in his late teens or early twenties. We meet his First Nation grandfather, Pipe, who is a rock, a quiet, stabilizing force in the lives of people around him.

When the people gathered together, it is like a mini-united nations gathering.  The fact that Tom is African American and adopting white kids seems a little “unreal” to me.  There is nothing wrong with that. But I live in Chicago and you never hear of that happening. There are a lot of African American children adopted by Caucasian couples, but not vise versa. Maybe Dorene Meyers is introducing an ideal that is slow in coming and tackling a social issue she sees in need of some reform. Maybe she is making a comment that we are all just adopted children from God’s point of view and brought into His family where there is every tribe and nation represented.

I also realize that the character, Joshua, appears in each book to varying degrees. In this book he is introduced as a young child very briefly. He has matted hair and appears disheveled and under fed. We learn that his mother died and his father is in prison. He was adopted by a family, where three of the boys were very abusive. The most abusive is Russell, who will be a real problem in future books. The appearing of Joshua serves as a timeline; without whom, it is not easy to know what point in time the settings are.

We are introduced to Jessie’s secret. The secret is that she is pregnant outside of marriage. She is distressed about this. She was able to confess the situation. But one night she was so distressed that she ran out to a dock and slipped on some ice and fell into the water. Colin was there to rescue her. People thought that she was trying to commit suicide. But it was actually an accident.

Jessie’s recovery, after being rescued from the freezing water, is the setting where she gives her heart to Jesus. Jessie was feeling guilty because she had thought of having an abortion. She didn’t do it. But she almost did. She was very convicted of her brother Dan’s life, who spent years saving children. (Refer to the book Rachael’s Children).  She was ministered to by Martha. She led her to Isaiah 40:31, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  (ESV) She was assured of God’s unconditional love using King David’s example in Psalm 139. King David never considered himself a burden to God or a mistake. Jessie prayed with her brother David, very honestly and sincerely. She prayed to know the one who loved her so completely. Through all of the struggles, Jessie gave her heart to Jesus.

After Jessie prays with words born out of new found faith, God starts to bring all of the loose ends of her life together.   The falling into the water, caused Jessie’s baby to be born prematurely. The baby was in a very real danger of not living. We are introduced to the father of the baby, Robert and Jessie’s mother, both of whom came to Jessie’s side in her time of need. Jessie never had a good relationship with her mom. I was thinking about what were the chances of people traveling to the remote location by aircraft. It took a herculean effort to get there. But that is the mark of a family that loves each other to overcome any obstacle.

Things come together at the end of the book. Robert steps up as a supportive father. Jessie and Robert decide to get married and they do get married in a double wedding with Dave and Carolee. After all, what are the chances of all the family members being all together in a remote setting, like Rabbit Lake.

God makes all things good. Romans 8:28, “8 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV)   We may think that things are falling apart. But God is at work, making all things new. He is redeeming everything.

Sometimes it takes being moved completely out of one’s environment to meet Jesus very personally and come to a point where God delivers us from what we are struggling with. Jessie experienced God’s deliverance and healing in Rabbit Lake NW Ontario. God works in mysterious ways. We may expect God to work in a certain way. But we can’t force his hand. It may be that we need to be found in a remote community to meet Jesus very personally.  I believe that many missionaries will come to know Jesus even more, through answering his call to share the Gospel in remote communities.

It is a good story. I wouldn’t say that it brought the struggles of First Nations people to light. There is great character development. We come to understand the relationships of all the characters better. But I wouldn’t say that this book helps us to understand the struggles of first nation people.  It is part of the overall story. It glorifies God. It shows deliverance and the merciful had of our sovereign God. In that sense it is of utmost value.



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