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Under the Tulip Tree Kindle Edition
|Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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- Publication date : September 8, 2020
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 400 pages
- Publisher : Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 8, 2020)
- ASIN : B085F4YQ11
- File size : 4561 KB
- Language: : English
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #168,849 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Rena and especially Frankie stick in your mind long after you close the book. Michelle pulled off something great with them, in that both women got plenty of development and time for organic, realistic growth. Frankie and Rena are beautifully nuanced; they're not just the former slave and the writer sent to interview said slave in order to prevent such atrocities from happening again. Instead, Frankie is a strong woman who grew into her strength. You root for her even in her bitterness and hate, not only because you know her trauma, but because you know she has the determination to make something worthwhile of her life. My heart broke for her plenty of times, especially as she rejected God (although, what else would any of us do in her circumstances)? But the heartbreak made her triumphant moments all the sweeter. A particular plot twist involving a Confederate soldier was my absolute favorite.
As for Rena, she's privileged and a little spoiled. You see and cringe at her naivete, but you recognize she's intelligent, forward-thinking, and compassionate enough to grow past those tendencies. I actually found myself sympathizing with her desire to escape at times, selfish as that could be. And one of my favorite parts of the book came when she confronted the realities of slavery and its fallout, as well as what she was going to do about it, even though everyone around her said slavery was in the past and not worth losing social standing over.
Speaking of confronting realities, one of the reasons I loved Tulip Tree was because it's "evergreen." As in, the novel might be set in the Depression and partially in the Civil War years/aftermath. But the issues tackled therein are still incredibly relevant for today. I couldn't read Rena's arc in particular without thinking of systemic racism and the ways, right or wrong, that this generation is trying to deal with it. I don't have the experience Rena does, and as far as I know, I don't have any slave-holding ancestors. But I found myself setting my Kindle aside to pray for forgiveness and understanding anyway. I found myself recalling subtle examples of casual racism I've seen in the 2010s and 2020, and cringing. Yet, none of this was preachy or in my face. It worked because Michelle let me see the evergreen plot points through human stories and fictional, yet real, human hearts.
Frankie and Rena's stories play off each other expertly and work great together, as Frankie learns how her story can impact others and give her final freedom, and Rena learns to break away from what "enslaves" her. There were a couple of places where I wondered if the novel leaned a little heavily on coincidence or the easy answer, but taken with the whole story, these things didn't bother me much at all. My final verdict is not only that you should read and enjoy it. I think you need to read this, especially now. We all do.
"Hatred is a powerful thing. It can turn a person into something they ain't. It don't matter what color your skin in."
Never did she imagine that taking a job with the Federal Writers' Project would lead her to a face in the mirror that she never wanted to call her own. Lorena Leland simply dreamed of being a writer, that's all. Her post depression family desperately needed the income that she could generate and the job sounded interesting if not a bit inconsequential, for "How could interviewing people who'd lived in bondage decades earlier help (Lorena) see her future more clearly? There was only one way to find out."
Mrs. Francis Washington. "Fact is, I ain't never told my story to anyone since freedom come. No sense in rememberin' them days, I say". But remember them she did; Lorena spent days listening and writing, and writing and listening, to a story that begged release. . . . under the tulip tree.
Behold the lives of two women; one young and unsure of herself, the other "older than dirt" and quite certain that she has lived the life that God meant her to live; nonetheless the struggles were real, for Frankie's outer wounds scarcely covered the ones she kept hidden within. Skillfully showcasing the power of forgiveness, the author tastefully pens events from a period of history that many would like to pretend never happened, but it's only in the remembering that we can erase the possibility of repetition.
"I am going to tell your story, Frankie . . . . . .Thank you for entrusting me with it."
Profound. Compelling. Powerful. Pertinent. Emotionally charged. Rocked-my-word-earth-shattering. :-) I have to pause here and say I listened to the audible edition of this book and Sarah Zimmerman's narration brought this already incredible story to a whole other level. I may have used the word gobsmacked to the point of cliche in my reviews lately, but I can't help it. I am!
I felt this story right through every fiber of my being. It touched me and changed me and testified to me. Frankie and Rena came to life through the power of their stories, convicting me afresh of the importance of remembering our past in all it's imperfect, heartbreaking, hard-to-stomach reality. It's only by seeking truth that we can be set free. I saw that so clearly in both Rena and Frankie's stories.
Gah -- there are so many specific talking points in this novel which are more suited for a book club than a review so if you belong to a book club, seriously consider adding Under the Tulip Tree to your reading list.
Not only in the Top Ten of my Best Reads of 2020 -- but also the most important title on that list.