This post contains affiliate links. I heard of the book Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee on one of the many places where I go to find new book recommendations. When I got it from the library, I enjoyed it from the beginning and read it in less than a week. I especially appreciated that this book covered two eras that I don’t often read about–the Great Depression and the lives of ex-slaves after the Civil War.
About Under the Tulip Tree
Rena’s 16th birthday falls on October 29, 1929, and on that day, her entire world changes. When the stock market crashes, her banker father loses everything, and life as Rena knew it is completely altered. Her father slips into the bottle, her mother tries to keep up appearances while taking a job as a seamstress, and her sister marries a ne’er-do-well.
Seven years pass, and Rena, now 23 years old, takes a job for the Federal Writers Project. Her job is to interview former slaves and write their narratives. As a Southern woman, she knows about slavery and knows that her ancestors owned slaves. However, she never thought about the day-to-day lives of slaves until she begins her job.
Her first interview is with 101 year old Frankie. Rena is immediately gripped by Frankie’s story, and Frankie takes a shine to Rena. The two develop an unlikely friendship, which redeems them both and leads to the discovery of some shocking secrets long since hidden.
My Thoughts about Under the Tulip Tree
I loved this book and found it to be inspiring. Frankie’s story was gripping and kept my interest throughout, especially when it coincided with the Civil War.
Kregel, a religious publisher, published this book. There is definitely a lot of talk about God in the latter half of the book, but I found it completely authentic within the story and appreciated that it was there. Frankie’s husband’s belief in God and urge to do good was especially inspiring.
On a historical note, I never even knew that the slave narratives existed! Of course, as the book mentions, the writers likely sanitized them, which is too bad. Still, it’s nice to have the stories documented, though I wish they had included all of the full details of slave life. The slave narratives I’ve read online seem very short and not in-depth, unfortunately.
I give Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.