Watching the Tree Limbs
A must read, May 17, 2007
By C. Howard (Texas) – See all my reviews It’s been a while since I sat down to read a book that I could not put down. Watching the Tree Limbs is exactly that type of book. Author Mary DeMuth hooked me from the moment the book opens with “Folks like my friend Camilla have lofty goals before they die, like stealing a kiss from a movie star or seeing the Sahara. Mine’s quite simple. I want to tell my story unsevered, as if it was actually me walking the sweltering pavement of Burl, Texas.” Half-way through the book, I purchased the sequel because I knew that I was not going to be able to wait to start the next one once I finished.
What I love about Mary’s storytelling is that she paints a poignant, beautiful picture of redemption and Christ’s unconditional love without feeling like it’s preachy or spoken with an ulterior motive. Certainly, Mary desires to share her faith through her words, but she chooses to show, rather than tell. The redemption story is so woven into the development of the characters and the movement of the book, that you can’t separate it out and say, “here’s the author’s agenda.”
In fact, it’s the way I think my friend Mary lives her life: you can’t say, here’s the spiritual part of Mary’s life and here’s the rest. As a result, I feel comfortable – even encourage – recommending this book to non-believers. But have no doubts, just because it’s “Christian fiction” does not mean that it is not a good story. Mary uses her words like a paintbrush on canvas, encouraging the reader at times to simply marvel at the intricacy of details and overall artistry of the story. I laughed, I cried and I connected with the characters. I couldn’t read fast enough, and yet wanted to savor every word.
I won’t share much about the story itself; I’ll leave that to you to experience fresh. Know that Mary addresses some tough issues, and at times she reaches out and squeezes your heart just enough that it aches, but that pain only leads you to a greater appreciation for the redemption offered to the characters in the book (and to us, through Jesus Christ). Please don’t think I gush just because Mary is my friend. If I thought her book stunk, I would let you know. But I don’t, and knowing her heart just makes it that much sweeter to recommend it to you.
Wishing on Dandelions from Spaghettipie:
If you are looking for a book that stirs your emotions and keeps you up until the wee hours of the morning, then I highly recommend Wishing on Dandelions by Mary DeMuth. WOD is the sequel to DeMuth’s debut novel, Watching the Tree Limbs. Although it took me a little longer to be drawn into this second book, it surpasses the first.
WTTL focuses on redemption, and as a natural progression, WOD focuses on learning how to accept God’s love and growing deeper in understanding our redemption. I found this story heavier that the first book, despite the fact that the main traumatic events occur to Maranatha in WTTL. For me, I identified on a deeper level with the struggle to fully grasp and accept that God loves me despite all my faults.
While I enjoyed the first book, I connected more with the second. I appreciated the new characters Mary introduced as well. Some of them I liked immediately, and only wished to know them more. Some of them had to grow on me, but the more glimpses I got into their hearts, the more I wanted to know about their back stories. Still others I appreciated for the reality of their humanity. One character in particular I really thought was going to have a change of heart after he heard Maranatha’s story, but he didn’t. In fact, the depth of the judgment in his soul only became more evident. At first I was appalled, but then quickly realized that people like that do exist and therefore have an appropriate – even necessary – place in a novel like this.
One of the many things I enjoy about Mary’s writing is that while she is a Christian author who discusses Christian values and issues, her books do not feel “Christian.” Do you follow me here? Writing a great story is what comes first for Mary, not writing a Christian story that she hopes is great. Of course, Jesus pours out onto her page, but that’s because He’s so pervasive in her life, not because she has an agenda to write about Him. I applaud her for writing reality, writing authentically and writing with excellence. It’s no wonder she’s nominated for a Christy Award.