Mara Nightingale becomes Roz's first friend in Mills River. In spite of their many differences, the girls discover they have something in common that binds them together--both are hiding secrets. So they make a promise--"cross my heart and hope to die"--never to tell anyone else. When danger stalks the Anthonys, Tillie exhibits unimaginable courage and selfless love in her determination to protect the family she has adopted as her own.
Shortly after moving into their new house they are greeted by an elderly woman named Tillie who shows up every morning on their porch. The daily visits uncover the fact that Tillie was the previous owner who landed herself in the hospital after an accident. Her sons thinking it was best sold the house and moved her into an elderly home. Well with spit and fire Tillie demands her home back and stats her main goal is to die in the house that she helped her husband build. At first Janis is annoyed by the disruptions but soon see’s Tillie’s insistence as a blessing. She lets Tillie move in and slowly over time they become family.
Not all is sun and roses in the Anthony’s life though, Wally the eldest son is struggling with anger and starts contemplating enlisting in the war, Janis is working full time and trying to move past her abusive marriage by dating the first schmuck that shows interest. Mara, Roz’s new best friend is struggling with having bi-racial parents and Roz is secretly seeing her father (the one they ran from) when he beckons her to come. As Alan manipulates Roz into secrecy he uses her to find out about Janis and things that are going on. He’s promised Roz that things will be different, that he’s getting help and saving up for them to be a family again and while Roz feels a twinge of fear from lying to her mom she cant help but hold unto the hope that her father really has changed. As the story unfolds though we readers know that Alan has a much more different outcome in mind than the cheery painted picture he has shown Roz.
This was a fun (and by fun I mean getting to know Tillie) fast-moving sometimes tenderhearted and at times suspenseful novel. Being my first Ann Tatlock novel I was happy to discover yet another inspirational writer who takes her stories to the edge with character and plot development. Even though most of the characters in Promises to Keep play a background role, Roz’s first person narrative brings them to life. As the reader I wanted to protect Roz from her father, I wanted to jump in and tell Janis to wake up…I wanted to scream at Mara to go tell her parents….I wanted to give Wally a big hug….and I wanted to see justice come for Alan. I found myself caring about all the characters, I found myself loving Tillie and overall while predictable in spots the story moved along nicely and ended with lovely closure. Lovers of family drama's, the 60's era and wholesome suspense will enjoy.
"So our young men, who are suppose to be our up-and-coming leaders, mind you, they're all turning themselves out like Timothy Leary and getting high on that marijuana tobacco and singing about some answer that's blowing in the wind. Blowing in the wind my foot! The answers plain as day,and its blowing right over their long-haired heads."........pg.177 (Tillie's thoughts on Vietnam and the state of America....)