Book Review: The Butternut Tree by: Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick

Rating: 5/5

Publisher: Bookstand Publishing

Publish Date: October 26, 2012

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Format:  Hardcover

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Avon, Ohio, was a sleepy little farm town in 1945. A simple way of life focused around strict Catholic doctrine, St. Mary's Church, and the objective truths and sense of right and wrong contained within those hallowed institutions. Tolerance was a luxury, one in which this town never indulged, favoring the rod over compassion. In 1928, when a young woman was the victim of sexual assault, she was tarnished, regardless of her subsequent marriage and a house full of children. Years after the assault, I was born into this family -- a family that shared a dilapidated farm house scarcely big enough to contain two people, let alone my grandparents, mother, sister, and two brothers. The townspeople's denial became condemnation as my father divorced my mother; the Town shunned our family and my mother took to her bed, unable to face herself or the world. Unaware of the cause of my mother's inability to function, I only knew I would grow to live a different life. I made a promise to that effect at the age of seven, under the shade and protection of my Butternut Tree. The fulfillment of that promise has taken many turns.

Review: Maureen Richards was a very wild child in a very conservative town in Ohio. Her mother wasn’t well most of the time, her father left their family, and her grandparents were elderly. Maureen’s other siblings were older, but they all looked out for each other. The Richards kids longer for a better life, for a mother who was “normal”, for a grandmother who did more than scold, and for a father who stayed around for more than a few hours every couple months. Maureen’s only constant was her Butternut Tree, where she shared all her hopes and dreams and where she could speak freely without judgment.

‘The Butternut Tree’ is a very touching story of an outcast girl from an outcast family. She relies on her big mouth and her quick fists to deal with her ostracization and loneliness. Her Butternut Tree is a symbol of hope and a place where she’s supported and loved unconditionally. As an adult, Maureen learns the reason behind her mother’s emotional problems and vows to find the perpetrators. While the story is sad, there is hope and humor in Ms. Kostalnick’s words which will touch your heart and soul.


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