Imagine you’re sitting on a plane and the woman sitting next to you is visibly upset. You’re naturally curious and compassionate, so you ask a question or two: How are you? and Why are you on this flight? The woman says she’s on the way to see her daughter, who is going into a federal witness protection program. She’s saying “good-bye.” Forever.
That happened to author Susan May Warren, and she turned the experience into a book, You Don’t Know Me, the sixth novel set in the fictional Minnesota town of Deep Haven.
In the close-knit town, Annalise Decker is a devoted wife, supportive mother and community activist. Her husband is running for mayor, and life, from the outside, looks perfect. Then a federal agent shows up with news that could wreck her world: the man she testified against 20 years ago is out of jail and seeking revenge. And Annalise’s carefully guarded secret, that her real name is Deidre O’Reilly and she’s in the Witness Security Program, is in danger of being made known. She has to decide if she’ll give up the life she’s built on a lie to protect her family or entrust herself to the grace and love of her family and the protection of God.
I picked this book up on sale for Kindle before Christmas last year. I’ve read one other Deep Haven book and a novella, both of which made me eager to pick up another one in the series. Though they all take place in Deep Haven, you don’t have to read all of them or have read them in order. I’m not even sure which ones I’ve missed, but each time I’ve taken the trip to Deep Haven through Warren’s novels, I’ve not been disappointed.
Warren blends suspense, humor, romance and inspiration like a perfectly seasoned soup. Her stories are warm, comforting, hearty and keep you coming back for more.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to say good-bye to your family forever, start a new life and then have that life threatened. Annalise’s choices are not easy and Warren makes her struggle real to the rest of us, who probably will never have to face that kind of choice.
I appreciated, too, that this story was borne out of something that really happened to someone through an encounter the author had in real life. As a writer, that inspires me, because I see stories everywhere. Warren’s tale is encouraging in so many ways. It’s not fluff; it’s tough.
And more often than not, I’m loving books that aren’t afraid to go deep.
Check out the first chapter and see if a trip to Deep Haven is in order.