Solomon’s Oak

Mapson, Jo-Ann. Solomon’s Oak. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010.

This was published over a year ago, in October 2010, so I feel sort of strange calling it an “Early” review for LibraryThing. It’s not exactly early in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s the quick and dirty: Glory Solomon is a newly widowed woman trying to make ends meet on her California farm. After the sudden death of her beloved husband (from pneumonia) Glory finds herself at odds with the new life she must forge without him. She struggles to keep her life exactly the same: taking in last-chance dogs, fostering children, and managing the farm all while keeping her head above water. When a new foster child unlike any other enters her life Glory realizes life will never be the same.

Everything about this book errs a little too much on the side of pleasant. I kept waiting for the trick, the edginess of each new situation to find it’s way into the story, but it never came. Mapson opens the door to many ominous opportunities to make the story a little grittier but never actually steps through it. Juniper McGuire is described as angry and troubled yet I saw more flashes of kindness and happiness than teenager angst. For all that she had been through she really wasn’t that bad of a kid. Then there’s the budding relationship with damaged ex-cop Joseph. Glory’s good friend growls to Joseph that he should “stay away” from the widow and yet that threat falls flat when he refuses to do so.

The last quirk to Solomon’s Oak is the narrative. Mapson does a great job with telling the story from a third party perspective but at the end she gives Juniper a voice allowing for an odd first person narrative. For the sake of consistency I wish Juniper had been allowed to tell her story all along.

Favorite line I feel comfortable quoting, “Glory loved her sister even if some days she had to work hard to like her” (p 74).

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