BookView Review: The Witness Tree by Jena M Steinmetz

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Pub date August 11, 2021

ISBN 978-1638372745

Price $23.99 (USD) Paperback, $5.70 Kindle edition

Author interview

Steinmetz tackles old secrets, toxic familial relationships, and self-discovery in her compelling latest. After a Labor Day storm topples a 150-year-old white oak rooted near a famed Civil War battleground in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the newly hired preservationist Breanne Walker finds herself tasked with authenticating and connecting the remarkable findings below the tree’s massive roots, including a diary dating back to the Battle of Gettysburg along with a body in an unmarked grave. As Breanne begins her work, she finds her own life turning upside down. Steinmetz is an expert at characterization: she deftly takes readers into dark places, letting her characters struggle with acute trauma and grief while showing readers the complexity and richness of Abigail’s stoicism and of Breanne’s arduous progression toward self-realization. She moves the reader gracefully from the present to the past, from incident to incident, and from character to character, tracing their hopes, griefs, loneliness, and resolve. Suspense comes as much from Breanne’s quest to uncover the secrets surrounding Abigail’s journal entries as from her obvious reluctance to deal with her past demons. The story flows swiftly as Steinmetz explores themes of self-realization, familial ties, determination, resilience, guilt, grace, regret, and redemption. A compelling work by a gifted writer.

***

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