By: Jo-Ann Mapson
Published: October 19, 2010
Solomon’s Oak is the story of three people who have suffered losses that changed their lives forever.
Glory Solomon, a young widow, holds tight to her memories while she struggles to hold on to her Central California farm. She makes ends meet by hosting weddings in the chapel her husband had built under their two-hundred-year-old white oak tree, known locally as Solomon’s Oak. Fourteen-year-old Juniper McGuire is the lone survivor of a family decimated by her sister’s disappearance. She arrives on Glory’s doorstep, pierced, tattooed, angry, and homeless. When Glory’s husband Dan was alive, they took in foster children, but Juniper may be more than she can handle alone. Joseph Vigil is a former Albuquerque police officer and crime lab photographer who was shot during a meth lab bust that took the life of his best friend. Now disabled and in constant pain, he arrives in California to fulfill his dream of photographing the state’s giant trees, including Solomon’s Oak.
In Jo-Ann Mapson’s deeply felt, wise, and gritty novel, these three broken souls will find in each other an unexpected comfort, the bond of friendship, and a second chance to see the miracles of everyday life.
I’m guessing the publisher/pr firm was trying to get more buzz about this book since I received it over a year after it came out. It finally may its way to the top of my to-read pile and I am certainly happy it did. I have never read a book by Mapson, but I plan to add a couple of hers to my list.
This story reminded me a bit of THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS because of the way it involved a women who was hurting and a foster child needing to be loved. But, beyond the foster child story, were so many pieces to the lives of these characters that you were rooting for them from the very beginning…even without knowing the whole story.
Grief, anger, hope, family dynamics, friendship, love, photography, nature, and animals are just a few of the tags that could be attached to this novel. This novel is also rich with book club discussion topics. Mapson wrote so beautifully that it was almost poetic at times. Places were so descriptive that I could imagine them. The character’s faces appeared in my mind and I could smell the food that was being made.
I appreciated the honest way the author gave the character’s feelings. My heart ached for them as I turned the pages, but I still believed there was hope for them. My most favorite part of the whole story was when Glory finally calls her sister, Halle for help. Even though their relationship was contentious and difficult, Glory swallowed her pride and called her sister. Halle, didn’t even blink an eye and came immediately to her aid. That’s was love is all about.
Even though the story drug a bit in the middle, I was interested enough to keep reading. The long chapters also made the pace of the novel move a little slower for me. Sometimes the story was held up a bit by the descriptions. But, I hated to see it end. I’d loved to hear more about the lives of Glory, Juniper, and Joseph.