Under the Tulip Tree

This week I decided to post a review for a book that recently made me cry. Recently I have been in the mood for historical books. I suppose that a lot of it is that I am so tired of all the ugliness that is going on in our world today. It is nice to have an escape and to be able to time travel a little bit. I had just finished reading a series by Janette Oke that I had picked up at my favorite used book store and had another one of her series that I had downloaded to my tablet but I wanted something a little different to read in between. I came across a book that was recommended on Goodreads called Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee, I had never head of this author before but the book sounded great. Here’s the blurb…

Sixteen-year-old Lorena Leland’s dreams of a rich and fulfilling life as a writer are dashed when the stock market crashes in 1929. Seven years into the Great Depression, Rena’s banker father has retreated into the bottle, her sister is married to a lazy charlatan and gambler, and Rena is an unemployed newspaper reporter. Eager for any writing job, Rena accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates Rena.

As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming?

This book captivated me. I was so emotionally invested in it that I found myself staying up late into the night and falling asleep reading just so I could find out what happened next. I kept a box of tissues near me and found that I often needed it while Frankie was telling Rena all about her life as a slave. This book is absolutely powerful. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything. It tells the truth about what happened during a dark point in our nation’s history. While reading this story I could see how there were attitudes of “it’s in the past, just leave it there.” then and I know that that attitude is still very much present in our world today. But we can’t leave things like this in the past. Just because something is unpleasant does not mean it should not be taught, discussed, and shared. If we never talk about it then how in the world are we ever going to learn about it and keep from making the same mistakes again? Ms. Shocklee did an absolutely wonderful job with this book, it is well researched and each and every one of the characters is well developed. You didn’t ever feel like someone was just dumped into the story to fill a space.

I’m buying a physical copy of the book and will be having Wyatt read it for school. I do enjoy historical novels but so many of the ones that I read are romance. This book while it has a hint of romance isn’t anything like what I am used to. If this book isn’t already it really needs to be added to high school reading lists.

Have you read a book lately that made you emotional?

About Angela Schroeder

Angela Schroeder is a single mother of three. She was born and raised in Iowa in a river town known for its pearl buttons. Having four siblings, she never lacked for someone to play with. As she grew older, she found herself pulled into books and writing more and more. Her parents are her heroes, her siblings her confidants and tormentors, and her children are a wonderful blessing. Church is important to her children and her. They enjoy the friendships they’ve made with the people there. Writing has always been a passion. Her first experience was in fifth grade when she went to a one-day writing conference. After that she knew it was something she wanted to pursue.
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4 Responses to Under the Tulip Tree

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I agree that the unpleasant parts of history need to be taught. Thanks for sharing this story!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff Salter says:

    Sounds like an excellent mix of the historical facts, using a fictional context to present those facts.
    [One of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction, myself — learn a lot of history while embracing the fiction individuals who are experiencing it, as it happened.]
    As to your question: I can’t recall any particular story that made me cry… though it’s certainly possible I’ve had some.
    But I do remember a scene in a novel I wrote, which still gets me misty when I re-read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree. Glossing over what was terrible in the past is only going to make sure that it can happen again.
    On Friday, I will post a review of a book that I also used to escape the news, but I went for funny.
    I had an Italian, mother, and a Father whose family was Irish, he was raised poor in the South. GUess whether or not I cry over books,(and movies, and stories, and TV shows and…)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I guess this goes on my TBR pile. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

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