This essay originally aired on November 5, 2016.
If you remember Frank Rocco as an assistant coach with Joe Paterno in the 80’s, you’ll be surprised to rediscover him as the author of “Secrets are Forever.”
The book is a multi-layered novel with lots of surprises to hold the reader’s interest. It starts in 1978, a decade after the death of Martin Luther King. But still long before a romance between two young people of different races, Cody and Kelsey, would be approved by their families. Still more troublesome is their unplanned pregnancy. From 2015, we can easily look back and judge. Rocco gives us that liberty, while still nudging us to realize that times were different. Rocco shows us that the young couple’s families are good people. They just need to evolve, as many of us have done.
The family of the young black man, Cody, is very similar to his girlfriend, Kelsey’s family. However, he can’t help but point out the difference between Kelsey’s plight and Cody’s. Though the trajectory of Cody’s life moves slightly, her life takes a major detour when she gives birth to fraternal twins.
In the second half of the book, Rocco follows the parallel childhoods of the twin boys who were adopted by different families. He also keeps us in the know about their biological parents. Football is the uniting theme in the novel, since the twins have inherited the athletic prowess of Cody, who was a college quarterback. As the boys grow up, they both become stars and even end up on the same football field once. The scene passes quickly, but we get a glimpse of the adoptive parents on opposite sides of the field cheering on their respective sons. We grow to know these families as well, since the author has given the boys strong and supportive second homes.
The story comes to a climax when both twins are nominated for a coveted football award. They visit New York and meet in a banquet hall. At this point, I doubt you will put the book down, no matter how late at night it is. The suspense mounts. Will the boys notice that their birthdays are the same? Will they note that they were born at the same hospital and in the same city?
But then you look down and notice you are only two-thirds into the story. There is still much more to go. Don’t you love it when there is more to find out in a book that is intriguing? I suggest that you buy Frank Rocco’s “Secrets are Forever” and find out for yourself if secrets really can be kept forever.
"Secrets are Forever" is written by Frank Rocco. It’s published by Archway.
Rocco is a former director of football operations and assistant coach at Penn State University. He is now retired and living in State College.
Reviewer Maureen Baggett is a retired teacher who writes children’s books.