Family Trees by Kerstin March is a beautifully written story that captivates the reader with a cast of interesting characters and stunning landscape. The story unfolds against the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Superior with Shelby Meyers, a young local woman who lives and works with her grandparents at their family owned orchard in Bayfield, Wisconsin. I at once fell in love with not only Shelby’s intelligence and independence, but also her salt of the earth grandparents and her spunky best friend. The community of Bayfield and its residents come to life in a way that invites readers to feel like we are a part of it.
One of the things I love most about this novel is how March brings Lake Superior alive with a beauty that transports the reader into the setting. I found myself wanting to escape into the story in order to experience life in Bayfield. The Great Lakes are not only beautiful in March’s novel, Family Trees, but Lake Superior is tightly woven into Shelby’s life, holding all of her dreams, happiness, and heartbreak. It is this heartbreak, deep as Lake Superior, that keeps Shelby from moving on, and yet, she seems at peace with it. In fact, not moving on doesn’t seem to bother Shelby all that much. She likes living out her days in Bayfield where her grandparents and town residents know and embrace her. It isn’t until Ryan Chambers, a talented and charming photographer, shows up that Shelby considers opening her heart to something more. In doing so, she is forced to face at the losses that keep her from moving forward.
While Family Trees is a love story, it is also a story about the struggles of two people who have let their family history anchor them in the past. For Shelby, this means she has things to work out with her mother, grandparents, and eventually Ryan. I was drawn to March’s writing because she handles family relationships in a way that reminds us how interwoven our futures are with our past. Family Trees shows us that in the reconciliation of family, love, and our everyday lives, we, like the characters in March’s novel, might be better able to live a fuller life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After graduating from St. Olaf College, Kerstin March built a career around writing. During her start as a small town newspaper reporter, and as a public relations professional later on, she always enjoyed bringing out the personal side of news stories. Today she is the author of Family Trees and its sequel, Branching Out,and is currently writing her third novel. A member of Tall Poppy Writers, Kerstin works as a freelance writer/editor and lives in Minnesota with her husband and their three children. When her family isn’t scrambling with work, school, and errands, they can often be found up north, braving ice-cold swims, fish boils, and bear scares on Lake Superior’s shore. www.kerstinmarch.com