Monday, March 26, 2012

Review of Dear America: Like the Willow Tree

Dear America: Like the Willow Tree
by Lois Lowry
4 Scribbles
Imagine having a birthday and one week later both of your parents are dead. This is what Lydia faces when the Spanish Flu kills her mother, her father, and her baby sister. She and her brother are sent to live with the Shakers, a deeply religious people who believe in a simple life. When Lydia and her brother first arrive at the Shaker village, Lydia is accepting but apprehensive about this new life. She becomes more apprehensive when one of the sisters takes the only memory she has of her mother—the ring gifted to her on her last birthday. Will Lydia learn to live amongst the Shakers, and more importantly, will her angry brother Daniel adapt to the lifestyle and tame his anger over their parents’ death? First let me say that I listened to this book on audio—and I think that the reader, Sara Barnett, has the perfect voice to portray the main character in the story, eleven-year-old, Lydia Pierce. Her voice sounds young and her impressive use of pitch and inflection reveals Lydia’s excitement, enthusiasm, and innocence perfectly. Through Lydia’s eyes, the reader imagines what it would be like to be a Shaker, to live a simple life, but one that is always working towards perfection, towards creating a heaven on Earth, as the Shakers do. I loved the story, but even I must admit that a failing of the book was idealizing the Shaker way. On only one instance does Lydia mention treating a classmate in a mean way, and instances where women gossiped in the laundry was treated more as concerned discussion than what it actually was—gossiping about another—which I’m pretty sure is not the Christian way no matter what sect you are in. Even with this optimistic slant, I enjoyed the story tremendously, it was an easy, entertaining read, with an Epilogue that will surprise the reader.

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