Book Review: The Secret of Misty Mountain by L. Michelle Bowen

The Secret of Misty Mountain
By L. Michelle Bowen
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

About the Book

When is it right to tell a secret?

When Anne, a young country girl who lives in the beautiful countryside of South Carolina meets Catherine, a pretty and wealthy new girl in town, they become unlikely friends. Everything seems perfect until Catherine confides in Anne a secret too big to keep. When schoolmates learn of her secret, it threatens to tear apart not only her friendship but Catherine’s family as well.

The Secret of Misty Mountain will resonate with anyone who has ever been sworn to secrecy too big for them to bear.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

The Secret of Misty Mountain is a tale about friendship and keeping secrets. Anne is a girl growing up in the south. During the summer before eighth grade, Anne meets Catherine, a new girl in town and they quickly become best friends.

Anne was brought up by her mother to not judge people by the color of their skin. She told her that you might as well judge people by the color of their eyes. What a sensible woman! So, when Anne meets Catherine’s widowed father, she also meets Virginia who is their black housekeeper. Anne can tell that Virginia is a great substitute for Catherine’s deceased mom, and she immediately considers Virginia a friend.

Then, when school starts, a big secret comes out, and it’s Anne’s fault! Has she just ruined her friendship and Catherine’s family at the same time? The way Anne’s father deals with the secret is perfect. Talk about excellent parenting!

This is a story of secrets too big to keep and the importance of friendship and trusting your friends. I definitely recommend The Secret of Misty Mountain for middle grade readers as well as older readers.

The only thing that I caution about is that the “n” word is used once. It’s used in the context that Catherine is afraid someone is going to call her a vicious name, but only because of the environment we live in right now, I’d be afraid to use it in any context.


“Anne, I need to tell you something. I haven’t told you this because I wasn’t sure how you’d react. The whole reason we moved out of Nashville was because people weren’t ready for what I’m about to tell you. It’s the reason we live in the middle of nowhere. And if you repeat this, I’ll surely die because people just aren’t ready. You hear me, I’ll surely die.”

I was nervous. I had no idea what Catherine was going to say, and I felt a bit sick. “Ok, Catherine. You can tell me. You can tell me anything. You can trust me.”

“Anne, Virginia is family. Actual family. She’s family because she’s…she’s my daddy’s wife.”

Silence. There was no sound to be heard. Absolute silence. I was numb from the top of my head to the soles of my dirty feet. I kept trying to think if I might have heard wrong. If maybe she meant something else. But there were no ways to twist the words. “Virginia is my daddy’s wife.” 

I can’t even imagine how long Catherine and I stared at each other. I kept thinking: Say something, Anne. But no words came.

“Well, are you going to say something?” Catherine asked.

And there it was. I had to say something now.

“Well, I’m not sure what to say. I’ve never known someone married to a colored person before. This is all new to me. You’ve got to give me a second here, Catherine,” I said. My head was spinning. I never really thought I’d have to think about this kind of thing.

About the Author

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina but I was mostly raised in Greenville, South Carolina. I have a heart for the southeast and all of it’s southern charm. I love the accents, the attitudes and the atmosphere. I was raised between the Great Smoky Mountains and Atlantic Ocean. My childhood consisted of vacations to both. We would climb through the woods and wade the creeks of the mountains and then head to the beach to jump the waves and play at the arcades.

All my life I have been a story teller. Everything I said and did were presented in grandiose fashion and my children were sponges to that. I loved reading books to them (and their friends). I never passed up the opportunity to read to them or tell them about something unique that happened that day, but in story form. One night, while my children were visiting their grandparents for the weekend, I had a very funny dream about a girl who’s mama tricked her one morning to get her out of bed. When I woke up, my first thought was to tell the kids. But they were gone. The story was too funny not to tell them so I began writing it down so I wouldn’t forget.  As I was writing the cute scene, I began to envision the characters more vividly and enjoy their company. When my kids got home, I told them the story and when I finished, my middle child said, “What happened next, mama?” And that was the birth of my first book, The Secret on Top of Misty Mountain. I started pouring myself into knowing more about Anne and Charles and Catherine and falling in love with them and rooting for them throughout their journeys.

In my free time, I like to watch and sing to musicals, have coffee with my daughter, cook and read books. But my favorite thing to do with my free time is to be with my kids!