The Crooked Branch by Jeanine Cummins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Crooked Branch is the story of two mothers: one is Majella, a new mother in current-day New York, who is finding motherhood much more difficult than she expected. The other is Ginny, a mother living in Ireland during the potato famine in the 1840s who is doing all she can to help her family survive.
Jeanine Cummins, once again, shows off her fine skills for storytelling. Her descriptive words have a way of transporting the reader so they are there. During the famine scenes, I felt like I could actually smell the rot. I cared for both struggling mothers in this story that is ultimately about a mother's love.
Here's a great interview that Jeanine did on NPR about her book. Without spoiling the book, you'll get a good idea of what she was thinking as she wrote the stories of Majella and Ginny. I think it's interesting to hear where the stories came from. (Note: there's some language in the interview that might not be safe for work.)
Jeanine's previous book, The Outside Boy, completely stole my heart (my review).
While I truly enjoyed The Crooked Branch, it'd be difficult for a book
to affect me like The Outside Boy did. I do think the new book will resonate strongly with mothers, especially new moms. I don't have kids, so I couldn't go all the way
"there," but I've heard stories from friends about postpartum
depression and can only imagine how your life would change after
bringing a baby into the world. Jeanine does a great job describing those feelings and experiences.
Also, full disclosure, Jeanine is a friend of mine. I'm happy to recommend her work because it's damn good. (Wouldn't it be awkward if I didn't like her stuff? I would just stay silent about it if that were the case...)