Under The Tulip Tree

By: Michelle Shocklee

“Maybe confidence in oneself had nothing to do with what other foks thought or did. Maybe it was deep down inside you, just waiting ot be let loose like a spring of water gushing to the surface.”

Lorena “Rena” Leland’s life turned upside down with the stock market crash of 1929. Her once wealth life was quite the opposite, and 7 years into the Great Depression, when her father is still hitting the bottle, and her mother working to make sure there’s food on the table, Rena takes a job for the Federal Writers’ Project. She is to interview former slaves to preserve theirs stories. The first person she is to interview is Frankie Washington, who tells Rena her very honest, tragic life as a slave, and how she eventually became free. Rena knew that her ancestors had owned slaves, and she had learned about slavery in schoo, but none of that could compare to what Frankie’s life was like. Frankie and Rena bond, but there is a connection there that no one ever saw coming – will this hurt their relationship?

This is such a beautiful book. While this is mainly historical fiction, there is also a little bit of mystery within as well. Shocklee did such a great job of giving Frankie a voice; I felt as thought she could have been real. While Frankie endured so much during slavery, she was still a pure heart, with a great ability to love others, and welcomed those that were different from her. A true woman ahead of her times. I felt for Rena, and I connected with Rena. She was brave for speaking to former slaves during the 30s, when others, including her family, felt quite differently about black people. And while Rena wasn’t real, there were real people that conducted these interviews, and I applaud them for helping our country remember our history so that we don’t make the same mistakes in the future. I WISH we didn’t have these inequalities based on the color of someone’s skin, and it’s sad to say, but it still goes on today. The relationship between Frankie and Rena is beautiful, the tale of forgiveness is beautiful; the book is just powerful.

This has easily become of one of my favorite Historical Fiction novels that I have every read. This book is available on Kindle Unlimited for those who have it, or you can purchase your copy here.