- Author: Sandra Byrd
- Publisher: Waterbrook Press (now Waterbrook Multnomah)
- Buy Here (Reprinted in six volumes with two books each; I’m not clear as to whether the reprints are from the same publisher)
I’ve owned the book Heart to Heart, by Sandra Byrd, since I was a kid. It’s a title I’ve read, and enjoyed, numerous times over the years. But although it’s book one in a twelve book series, I hadn’t read any of the other books, until recently.
I like to collect books from eBay, where I can find fantastic prices on used books. (I also really like shopping the book section at thrift stores which is even cheaper, but much more hit-and-miss, in terms of finding what I’m actually looking for). I’d looked for this series before, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to start collecting the books for $3-4 each. It was such a blessing, therefore, when I found the whole set for just over $25 (including shipping, and a discount for “watching.”). My mom and I purchased the set from momofsdjr7vv6 as a Valentine’s gift for me.
The books arrived a bit early, which also ended up being a huge blessing, because I got sick with COVID (and very, very unfortunately) and infected my mom at the end of January. However, one fun memory we’ll have from this time is reading through the Secret Sisters series together. We set up an “intercom system” with our phones. I shut my bedroom door and read quietly and my mom turned her phone on speaker like an audiobook. We got through the entire series in about a week, averaging two books a day. The middle grade content was perfect for a non-stressful read.
Since the books were fun, I’m going to do a brief series overview.
Secret Sisters Premise
Tess is starting sixth grade with a lot of trepidation at the beginning of book one. She had a very lonely fifth grade year and, in spite of making a friend over the summer, learns that she will not be in class with this friend. During book one, Tess meets Erin and the two decide to become “secret sisters.” It’s the perfect arrangement because both girls only have brothers.
Erin is a Christian and begins inviting Tess to church. Tess accepts Christ fairly early in the series, and grows in her new walk with the Lord. Although Tess’s family is not Christian, Tess receives a lot of support from Erin and her parents.
The series covers one year, and books are set in consecutive months, with dates clearly indicated at the start of each chapter. Like sisters, the best friends do many fun things together— and experience occasional challenges in their friendship.
What I Liked
As mentioned above, these books are nice and light. Heavier topics (such as sickness of a parent and death of a pet) are dealt with gently, in age-appropriate ways. It was so fun to follow Tess and Erin as they navigated their friendship, made new friends, and did interesting things. Along the way, Tess also learns important lessons like the importance of honesty and obeying her parents. Most importantly, she is really seeking to walk with Jesus, and we get to see how she grows along the way. Erin is a terrific friend, and even supporting characters are well-fleshed out, throughout the series.
I also appreciated the presentation of the Gospel, throughout the books. Emphasis is really placed on Jesus’ love— not the fear of hell— which was truly refreshing.
My biggest content note is that there is a pretty strong conflation with attending church and being a Christian. For instance, one of the church leaders quotes a Bible verse to include attending church. It’s not really clear that he’s paraphrasing, although he is because “church” is not in that verse. Additionally, when another character asks Tess if they will have to attend church if they become a Christian, she says “yes.” It’s stated that she’s tempted to say no, so that the other person will become a Christian, but honestly believes that you have to attend church, to be a Christian.
This series is a lot of fun! Although it was published in the 90s, I personally still enjoyed it. I am aware that the series has been re-released with new covers; I’m not sure if any content has been updated.
Recommended for preteen girls; I like the idea of non-Christians reading the book, since Tess’s family is not Christian. However, I really would prefer for there to be a clearer delineation between church attendance and Christianity.