Vanguard Spotlight Book of the Month: February 2020

Monthly Reads from ASU-Beebe Students, Faculty and Staff.

ASU-Beebe Employee Favorites

Each month Abington Library will feature a favorite book from a faculty, staff member, or student. They will give a brief synopsis of their chosen book.

Featured ASU-Beebe Employee: Megan Stane

About Megan

Megan is an Administrative Specialist II in Concurrent Enrollment.

About the Book

Joelle’s Secret by Megan Stane

               If you like books with a strong female character and a romantic twist this is the book for you. Joelle’s Secret shows that a woman will do what she must if it means protecting herself and having a good life.

               The book, Joelle’s Secret, is set in the mid-1800s in a town called River Bend and starts off introducing the main character, 16 year old Joelle, her sick mother, Clara Harper, and her horrible stepfather, Burl Harper. Joelle’s stepfather, Burl, has taken an unhealthy interest in Joelle especially since Clara is so sick. Joelle and Clara realize this especially when Burl will not allow any young man court Joelle even to the point of violence to keep the young men away. Clara, in desperation to protect her daughter, gives Joelle money and jewelry Clara hid from Burl before they married. She makes Joelle promise that after Clara’s death Joelle will flee to Fort Smith where Clara’s sister lives. Clara swears that Joelle will meet a man who will help her after Clara’s death. After Clara has died, Burl makes it clear that Joelle is going to be in his bed either by marriage or by forcing her into it and no one is going to stop him. Joelle flees from River Bend and must dress like a boy, Joe, when Burl puts a warrant out for her arrest claiming she robbed him. Joelle learns that her aunt has moved away to Canada with a new husband when she reaches Fort Smith so she gets hired as a stable hand for room and board. She later saves a man called Owen Majors from freezing to death during a harsh winter.

Owen had been in jail for fighting and was saved by Joe when he passed out in the snow after being released while very sick. Owen and Joelle become close friends to the point of having dinner together most nights. Owen decides he is going to go west to dig for gold on a wagon train and Joelle sees this as an opportunity to get away from her horrible stepdad Burl for good. Along the way they meet some crazy characters – Cherry Vance: The prostitute, Harry Jump: reformed alcoholic turned preacher and so many others who show all the different kinds of people who went west for a better life. Joelle’s secret is reveled when she is shot in the chest during an argument between Owen and another man on the wagon train. Joelle has to deal with the changing attitudes of those she is traveling with while Owen has to deal with his changing feeling for Joelle when he learns the truth.

I can’t imagine how scared Joelle would have been to leave everything and everyone she has ever known to flee to a person who, while family, she has never known. This book shows a young woman who through all the odds did what she had to do for a better life. I fell in love with the characters as they each grow and accept the changes that come as they travel to a new life in California

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