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Written in the journal are tales of the family being cursed with feebleminded offspring. Talie decides to ignore the journal, burying it back to the recesses of the past. However, when her son begins showing sign of developmental delay, Talie must reexamine the legacy that she has passed onto her son, and make peace with the unborn child that she is carrying. Maureen Lang, softcover, 401 pages.
|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2011
Maureen Langs novel The Oak Leaves is a work both masterful and deeply touching. Weaving together modern medicine and Irish history, The Oak Leaves is a lush and moving tapestry of love, fear, and faith.
One of Langs greatest accomplishments in The Oak Leaves is her use of two completely distinct plots, separated in distance by an ocean and in time by a century and a half, yet intricately interwoven into a marvelous tapestry of fear and faith. Despite this, there is never a moment of confusion for the readers as to where they are, which plot is taking place, or what is happening. And whereas each of the two plots would be capable of standing excellently on its own, the way Lang knits them together is both logical and unavoidable, creating an exceptional story nothing short of spellbinding.
Technically, also, The Oak Leaves is excellent. Ireland during her potato famine is well drawn, as is England during the same time. Langs writing doesnt stand between the reader and the story, and she shifts seamlessly from narrative in Talies time to entries from Cosmias diary to narrative in Cosmias time. She also shifts her tone slightly to aid the transitions, remaining modern and informal for Talie, but using slightly more elevated language to convey the elegance of Cosmias era.
All of Langs characters, both those from Talies era and those from Cosmias, are artfully drawn. Each is recognizable, distinct, and a clear individual, complete with his or her own passions and eccentricities, nobilities, and flaws. Better yet, although each timeframe in The Oak Leaves has enough characters to fill a novel, there is no confusion between those of Talies time and those of Cosmias. Even the antagonist is handled with care and sympathy.
Lang also handles her characters Christian faith with a deft hand. It is both pervasive and unobtrusive, never invisible yet never preachy. None of her characters are annoyingly perfect Christians, and their strugglesCosmias doubt, Talies fear, Danas frustrationare as realistic and understandable as their triumphs of faith. And instead of moments with a great light from Heaven and a voice or a vision, Lang uses small and subtle changes, smoothly changing the characters in the same ways that real people change.
But the most exceptional aspect of the novel is the fact that it centers on people with "fragile X syndrome"a genetic mutation that leaves the childs mind delayed while its body grows as usual. Langs treatment is tender and respectful yet honest, as she portrays the varying levels of functionality possible for a child with fragile X. Writing out of her own personal experience with fragile X in her son, Lang tells what it feels like to deal with the disease, and finally brings both Tallie and Cosmias stories to an uplifting close.
Overall, The Oak Leaves is an exquisite book. Flawlessly plotted, filled with flesh-and-blood characters and a radiant faith, and centering on an unusual topic, The Oak Leaves is excellent reading, whether for those who know someone with fragile X or just for those looking for a beautiful and uplifting story. Very highly recommended. Rachel Niehaus, Christian Book Previews.com
MarianneWanham, AlbertaAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5a great novelDecember 10, 2013MarianneWanham, AlbertaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Oak Leaves is a phenomenal look at disabled children, those that carry a gene called Fragile X. This book is not new, having been on my TBR (to be read) pile for a year or more, and was published in August 2011. I really enjoyed this book, and was disappointed when I came to the end of it. But then I found out there is another one...On Sparrow Hill which I find I also have! This story takes place now, but through a journal that Talie (Natalie) finds among her father's memorabilia we learn about her ancestors in 1848 as well. The ties that bind the two lives together are strong, and very poignant. I was not surprised to find out that this is a subject very close to Maureen's heart, for I felt the heart beat as I read it. Even though the events in the story did not effect me personally, they have changed the way I look at others, the way I feel for parents of disabled children, how I react. And that I believe is what a book should do! Very good! Thanks, Maureen for writing your heart out!
PharmDJohnston,SCAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5This is a touching story.January 8, 2013PharmDJohnston,SCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is a very touching story. It brought to light a syndrome that the world is not very familiar with. The characters face very similar struggles to those who have children with autism today. We have an autistic member in our family and we have "asked" some of the same questions. The characters display a deep faith and have to draw from this faith during their very difficult time.
Mrsg4 Stars Out Of 5October 26, 2011MrsgGood quick read! Would recommend to my family and friends.
CrochetLady56Saint Joseph, MOAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Excellent overallOctober 4, 2011CrochetLady56Saint Joseph, MOAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Oak Leaves was beyond my expectation. Loved it and would recommend to my friends.