Title: Beneath the Night Tree
Author: Nicole Baart
Summary from Publisher's Website:
Do I have a child? Julia DeSmit knew she would face the question eventually, but she didn’t expect it now. At twenty-four, she is finally content with the way her life has unfolded. A single mother to her son and young brother, she works at the local grocery store while chipping away at a two-year degree. All her free time is spent with her unorthodox family—her boys, her grandmother, and her boyfriend of five years. It’s not perfect, but Julia is happier than ever.
So when she receives the cryptic e-mail from her son’s father, Julia’s world is turned upside down. She hasn’t heard from Parker since he left her in a college parking lot nearly six years ago. But one look at her son—the spitting image of his father—is enough to convince her that, for better or worse, Parker is a part of their story. Faced with this new reality and an unexpected tragedy, Julia begins a tightrope walk between what was and what is, what she hopes for and what will be.
This is one book that I couldn't put down! I found myself sneaking moments to read this book. It literally - though not obsessively - consumed my thoughts until I was able to finish it! Big warning however... there will be tears shed if you are prone to tears! Yet, smiles will be in abundance as well.
I like to do a little pre-reading about the author if they are unfamiliar to me before I start a new book or series. It gives me a bit of a foundation if I can glean a touch about their writing style or the subjects that they tend to lean towards. I was immediately disappointed that I had chosen to read a book that was the third in a series! I'm a chronological girl. I love reading things IN ORDER. But, I gave it a go anyway. I have to commend Ms. Baart because not only was this a fascinating story with life-like characters that you find yourself connecting with, but she also wrote Beneath the Night Tree in a way that we, who didn't grow with Julia through her trials, could still follow along without feeling left out of the loop. That, to a chronological girl like myself, is worth its weight in gold.
The characters in this story are completely lovable, believable, triumphant, heartbreaking, hysterical, sad, and kind wrapped into one. Julia is an underdog that you root for with the strength of a champion. Her situations, though vastly different from some that we may experience, are completely real on the page. Perhaps I connected with her because I was a young mother (22 when my daughter was born), or perhaps it was because I had a similar relationship with my grandmother, but for whatever reason I immediately connected with her character. Even if her life choices are foreign from you they are written with remarkable skill and creativity making you wonder how you would handle them if they were your life. She's a strong mother, devoted granddaughter, and woman trying to make the best decisions she can so that her family has the life that they deserve rather than the one that they have been dealt. Her faith and dependence on God is written clearly and shine through as a foundational part of her life. I applaud Ms. Baart for making her beliefs an integral part of the story rather than a footnote.
I've not yet found any indication that there will be a fourth "Julia" book, but I'll be waiting with baited breath if Ms. Baart should decide to release one. And, I'll be reading books one and two as well (and probably three a second time!)
Rating: 5 Stars! Beneath the Night Tree is a fantastic read that will entertain as well as strengthen your faith as her characters remind you of theirs. But, for those that aren't interested in this aspect, it is still a fascinating read that adds layers to its characters without being "preachy." It will definitely go on my shelf but will be loaned out and suggested. In fact, I might even suggest that my mom read this before a few that are on her nightstand!
And for the folks at the FCC:
*Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book through the publisher's blogging program in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts and opinions are all mine!