Last in Sherrie Hansen’s Maple Valley trilogy, Merry Go Round tells the story of the perfect sister with the perfect marriage, and what happens when perfection’s not what it seems. There’s something hauntingly real in the image of a pastor’s wife, nervous of who’s watching, who’s talking, and who might learn her husband’s secret. And there’s something very honest in the wounds caused by secrecy.
Marriages break up for many different reasons, and parents struggle to give the best to their kids. The characters of Maple Valley have all the old-fashioned values that shape and center our lives, but the Maple Valley stories look behind those values, giving them depth and comfort to cope when fairytales stop following the plan. Divorce is real. Homosexuality can’t be swept under the carpet. Children can be hurt even when their parents have the best of intentions. And just maybe, honesty is the best policy.
Tracy’s rebellious daughter, sullen older son and delightful youngest child are all so real, all so filled with potential. But Tracy has buried her potential in the need to play a part and project a perfect image. Gradually she learns to recognize and value herself, imperfect, lovable, and ready to move on.
With architecture’s shape and form, music’s laughter, and the constant turn of the merry-go-round, author Sherrie Hansen sets her characters in motion along matching rides then brings them together in satisfying unison. Even the estranged siblings of the other two volumes learn to see how they grew up together and now might grow more through caring for each other. Merry go round is a slightly darker ride than the earlier two volumes, but a beautifully thought-provoking romantic drama and a thoroughly enjoyable stand-alone read.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.