Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Pears on a Willow Tree" By: Leslie Pietrzyk Review

"Pears on a Willow Tree" 

By: Leslie Pietrzyk

Synopsis from Amazon.com:
The Marchewka women are inseparable. They relish the joys of family gatherings; from preparing traditional holiday meals to organizing a wedding in which each of them is given a specific task -- whether it's sewing the bridal gown or preserving pickles as a gift to the newlyweds. Bound together by recipes, reminiscences and tangled relationships, these women are the foundation of a dignified, compassionate family--one that has learned to survive the hardships of emigration and assimilation in twentieth-century America.

But as the century evolves, so does each succeeding generation. As the older women keep a tight hold on the family traditions passed from mother to daughter, the younger women are dealing with more modern problems, wounds not easily healed by the advice of a local priest or a kind word from mother.

My Thoughts:
       Another book club selection! I've got to be honest, I kept this book for last in my entire TBR pile because I was sure I wouldn't like it. Surprisingly, I loved it! Pears on a Willow Tree is a wonderful story of mothers, daughters, and grandmothers. Ups, downs, family, love, children and so much more is delved into this relatively short novel.
      "Pears on a Willow Tree" is broken into four distinct voices told through out the book. Rose is a wise, yet stubborn immigrant from Poland and is the de facto head of the family. Not much happened in the family that Rose didn't approve. Rose's daughter, Helen is the second voice. Helen did the "right" thing in marrying young, having her children and staying close to her mother and family. She wasn't one to rock the boat, even though she may have wanted to on occasion.
      The third generation is the voice of Ginger, a rebellious daughter of Helen, who felt like she didn't belong with her family. She seemed to be fighting herself, her mother, and the expectations of others. Ginger moves away from the family to start her life and its here she meets her husband and starts a family.
      The fourth and final voice of the family is Ginger's daughter, Amy, who seems to be a conglomeration of the three previous women. She's strong and stubborn like Rose, loves her family and wories like Helen, yet has a rebellious streak like Ginger. Amy grows up during the book and is seen as a young girl playing in the sprinklers, to a teenager worrying about her mother, and finally to an adult living in Thailand teaching the local children.
       Each of the women are vastly different, yet familiar. You can tell they are from the same family, which I loved because it reminded me so much of myself and my family. The women in my family are vastly different, yet we are the same in many ways...even if we don't like to think we are. Tough issues are dealt with during the passages, such as Helen's alzheimer's, Rose's death, Ginger's alcoholism and Amy's reaction to these events in her life. I don't know if I have a favorite character, as they were all special in their own way.
      When I finished this book, I immediately knew that I loved it. Interestingly, no one else in my book group liked it...and its usually the other way around. So while I would say this would appeal to anyone, it didn't appeal to the women in my book group. I loved this book, from its formatting to the characters and the wisdom they imparted. If you have a chance to read this book, do! It will make you appreciate your family so much more and help you understand yourself in the process.

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