Tree, Planted by the Water
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media

"She had a swelling feeling in her mind like she had just taken hold of her future with the shovel and her two dirty hands."

This story of a burgeoning prairie town parallels a girl's coming of age. While her older two siblings fill their parents' shoes following their sudden deaths, Lynn, the youngest, watches from her beloved chestnut tree. Her languid days journaling and talking with angels and owls on a branch end, though, when she's asked to guard the family's land, from the tree, during a land-grab race. She succeeds in securing the acreages on which sit the chapel and parsonage they caretake. The three also gain more land. Soon, they welcome neighbors and friends and establish a town.

Lynn's maturity presents a stalwart example of hard work paying off. At the book's beginning and end, she helps stitch a man's wounds. At first, she assists; later, she directs family members' assistance. In the interim, the book shows her learning through her labors at the town store, in the garden, and at the church. Spunky, caring, and curious, the other characters admire her and learn from her.

The book speaks its message of innovation and growth through an unorthodox plot, an emphasis on self-reliance, and a spiritual dimension. The story has no central conflict. Instead, constant challenges bring out the siblings' bravery and nurture others' virtues at every turn. Having lost their parents young, the siblings are no strangers to fear. They build, earn employment, and marry with alacrity. The colloquial, no-frills writing style highlights this can-do, action-oriented attitude. The presence of angels and frequent biblical quotations shows the characters' foundation in faith that all will be well. In some ways, the characterizations, plot, and style of Klusmeyer's book are reminiscent of the Christian young adult novels of the mid-twentieth century. Fans of stories from this era might find this one to be a wholesome reminder of what was once common fare for Christian readers.

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