Beneath the Night Tree review
June 23, 2011, 7:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Julia DeSmit is a young woman living in Iowa. She is juggling raising two boys (her five-year-old son and her ten-year-old half-brother), working as an assistant store manager at the local grocery store, and taking classes in early childhood development at a technical school.

She is mature enough to feel grateful for her life the way it is, “for Daniel, for Simon, for my grandmother, who still slipped from bed not long after I turned on the shower to whisk pancake batter or fold blueberries into muffins for breakfast. . . . for the four corners of our family and the way that we folded into each other like one of my grandma’s quilts. Edges coming together, softening.”

As a single mom, Julia worries, however, that she can never do enough or be enough for the two boys. Shortly after her boyfriend of five years suggests that she and her son move six hours away from the farm to share a leased home with him while he finishes a semester of medical school, Julia receives an email from a former boyfriend, her son’s father. This contact causes Julia to examine her life.

She says, “Instead of bemoaning the particulars of my life, for five years, I had done everything in my power to rise to the occasion, to be an exemplary mother, sister, and granddaughter. After all, the circumstances of my existence were born of my own choosing. My mistakes–and the mistakes of others– had charted a path for me that I never imagined or hoped for.” Julia picks up contact with her son’s father, letting him of Daniel’s existence. He enters her life to engage a relationship with their son and also becomes acquainted with her half-brother and grandmother. Michael, the boyfriend of five years, unaware of this relationship, proposes to Julia in the meantime.

To her surprise, Julia has shortcomings to the proposal. She lists her reasons: ” Because I hadn’t expected Michael to propose. Because I was tired. Because it meant I would have to make a lot of tough decisions.” She encounters further confusion while selecting a wedding dress. While struggling with the changes soon to take place, she finds a note her Grandmother had tucked inside the family Bible. ” I don’t want Julia to be happy. I don’t expect her life to be easy. I don’t insist that it be painless. But I do want her to be content. I want her to love and be loved. I want her to be holy.”

Julia keeps these statements in her mind for the rest of the story. They help her make a decision as to which path she will take and what influences will take her there.



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