What a treat it was to read Secrets – Visible & Invisible, a selection of seven short stories, written by seven different Catholic teen authors. Each story centers on a secret, and each story’s protagonist(s) depicted virtue, worthy of emulating. So, here is the run down:
Secrets of Faith
The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles, is a dystopian tale from Corinna Turner. In this story we meet Margo and Bane, two pre-teens out for a joy ride. They live in a futuristic time where religion and faith are taboo, yet Margo and Bane are practicing Catholics. Masses are said underground. After attending a secret Mass, they get into trouble while trying to get home on time. Will the authorities let them go, or will they convict them of joining the “Resistance?” Margo and Bane’s faith is only one of several secrets revealed in this page-turning, fast paced story, that serves as a prequel to I am Margaret.
Secrets of Generosity
In Recreation, by award winning novelist, Cynthia T. Toney, we meet two recent high school graduates, Elijah and Darrell, who spend their last summer together before college begins. How do they use their time? By generously giving of their talents, free of charge, to fix up a home of an elderly neighbor. At first Elijah begins to help Miss Vivian on his own, but eventually, Elijah realizes that he needs Darrell’s help to complete all the tasks. So, Elijah lets Darrell in on his secret of how he has been spending most of his free time. But that’s not the only secret in this story. The ending is a real whopper that will put a smile on any reader’s face, as generosity is on steroids in this wonderful short story.
Secrets of Truth
In The Portrait of the Fire Starters, by Theresa Linden, we meet a group of teens that gather at St. Michael’s High School as members of the Fire Starters club. One day, they show up for their meeting and there is a painting there that depicts the bodies of each of the Fire Starter participants, without faces. The teens find it all very puzzling and gather together to figure out who painted the portrait, and why. As the teens return for subsequent meetings, they notice that the portrait changes. Finding this to be rather disturbing, the teens start to confide in each other and share their secrets. In the process, the teens come to realize that they had made unfounded assumptions about each other, as well as other peripheral characters within the story. Truth and caring are quite evident within this story, expressed in a most profound way.
Secrets of Mercy and Forgiveness
On the Brink of Hell, by Susan Peek, is an historical short story that serves as a prequel to A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of St. Camillus de Lellis. In this short story, set in 16th century Italy, we meet Dario, a Roman soldier injured in battle. As Dario is near death, he fears his destiny is Hell, given his past deeds. Peek masterfully alternates between Dario’s present day and his past, where the reader is informed of Dario’s memories of his own improper behavior. One of his arch enemies was a man named Camillus, a mercenary for hire. The altercations between Dario and Camillus must be confessed by Dario, as these are secrets that he does not want to take to his grave. In this story, we see mercy and forgiveness lavishly displayed, with an ending I did not see coming, but it brought me to tears!
Secrets of Love
Sister Francesca, by T. M. Gaouette, is a heart-warming story of love for God and friends. Francesca knows at age 14 that she wants to become a nun. Jason, at age 16, just wants to know Francesca. Their friendship blossoms over time, and their respective intentions never waver. So, something must give as their intentions take them down different paths. After God alters Francesca’s course, the two part, yet remain friends over time. It is through Francesca’s witness of her love for God that Jason finds his way in life. This story is filled with the virtues of love and friendship.
Secrets of Fortitude
Behind the Wheel, by Carolyn Astfalk, serves as a prequel to Rightfully Ours. In this short story we learn of the earlier days of two brothers, named Sean and Paul. At 15, Sean has a certain girl on his mind, and he sneaks out of the house to meet her at the local pizza shop. What ensues after that is nothing but disaster. Sean gets in trouble for leaving his younger brother alone, and for driving to the pizza shop without a driver’s license. What you will see on display in this story is the virtue of fortitude; a sense of courage to own up to the truth, even when you know it will get you into trouble with your father.
Secrets of Caring
Lastly, we have a short story titled, More Precious than Gold, by Leslea Wahl. In this inspiring tale, we meet four young adults who come together to donate their time for a week at a summer camp. In the process, they meet a young boy, named Jet, who seems lost and grief-stricken at the loss of his older brother, due to gun violence. With each adult using their God-given talents, they all help Jet heal, and in the process help Jet find his true talent. This story teems with the virtues of caring, compassion and friendship.
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