Eleven-year-old Roz (Rosalind) Anthony and her family have just moved to Mills River, Illinois, to escape an abusive situation. Only days after settling into their new home, they are surprised to find the previous owner, Tillie Monroe, on their front porch reading the newspaper. Though her sons have sold the house and sent her to a facility for the aged, she is determined to die in the place she lived her life, and somehow manages to find her way “home” day after day. Feeling sympathy for the elderly woman, Roz’s mother allows Tillie to move back in. 

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.


How interesting it was to read a story through the eyes of a character who is the same age as my daughter. Ann Tatlock in Promises to Keep does an excellent job of communicating the complexities of life as seen by a child and reminds the reader that life is never simple, even for a child.  Roz is a character full of sweetness and hope despite all she has been through. I was completely taken into her story and found myself wanting to warn her, comfort her and shield her from her life’s woes.

I loved the deepening relationship between Roz and Tillie – the older mentoring the younger. The inexperience and longing of a child juxtaposed against the wisdom and patience of a life well lived gives the reader much to think about. There is always a child in need of guidance and it is our responsibility to understand the complexities of life seen through their eyes.

There were a few surprising plot twists that had me worried and elated, happy and sad, all at the same time. The climax and ending were unexpected and had me so wound up that I slammed the book down in my lap…much to the amusement of those around me. They concluded the book must have been good for me to react the way that I did. Despite being a challenging read for me, Promises to Keep is indeed a good book.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Bethany House.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.