06 March 2012

Solomon's Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

Flap Copy: "Thirty-eight-year-old Glory Solomon is struggling to come to terms with life on her California farm after the sudden death of her husband. When two lost souls walk into her life, Glory is completely unprepared for the changes they will bring. Juniper McGuire is a troubled, angry teenager from a broken family, in need of a home and the kind of emotional guidance Glory herself is looking for. Help comes in the form of Joseph Vigil, a wounded ex-police officer, who also bears scars from his past that he is trying to heal. Together these three survivors find in each other an unexpected solace, the bond of friendship, and a second chance to see the miracles of everyday life."

'Solomon's Oak' is a quietly memorable, moving novel featuring very ordinary people struggling to deal with love and loss in the midst of daily life. Glory is a young widow trying to cope with the demands of farm living after the sudden death of her husband; Juniper is a teen foster child grieving not only for a missing sister but for the subsequent loss of her own childhood; and Joseph is a wounded ex-cop, trying to find a new place for himself in the world after losing his careers, his wife and his partner all in a short span of time. With these sad characters, the book certainly might have taken a maudlin and depressing turn - instead, Mapson manages to capture the small joys and the laugh-out-loud moments that make a life, handling tragedy and hope with the same matter-of-fact approach. Though the story starts a little slowly, I suddenly found myself engrossed and finished the book in record time - I think Mapson's tale is delicately crafted and insightful, and highly recommend it as a story about real people and the real ways in which they move through their lives.

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