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This book is unique blend of history, coming of age, and mystery all wrapped into one It is different than any book I have ever read, especially in the LDS genre However, that is not necessarily a bad thing and was actually a refreshing change.One of my favorite things about this book was the development of Maggie, the main character Even though Maggie lived during the 1800s, it was amazing how similar she was to a modern day teenager She is a stubborn and headstrong 16 year old weren t we This book is unique blend of history, coming of age, and mystery all wrapped into one It is different than any book I have ever read, especially in the LDS genre However, that is not necessarily a bad thing and was actually a refreshing change.One of my favorite things about this book was the development of Maggie, the main character Even though Maggie lived during the 1800s, it was amazing how similar she was to a modern day teenager She is a stubborn and headstrong 16 year old weren t we all who is struggling to figure out who she is She also questions her self worth which is a common issue during adolescence It reminded me that even though we each grow up in different environments, we all still struggle through the same growing pains.I also loved the romantic development that plays a subtle role in the book First time love is so innocent and it catches Maggie completely by surprise Even though romance is not a priority in a town where daily life is a constant struggle just to survive, Maggie s love interest is very tender with her, showing his affection through sweet gestures and simple expressions.The other part of the book that I enjoyed the most was the underlying theme of familial love During my interview with the author, I discovered just how important family is to her so it didn t surprise me to see that this was the foundation of her book Not only does Maggie adore her sister and the memory of her parents, but, over the course of the novel, realizes her reluctant affection for her foster family She also realizes that this love is reciprocated by those she thought viewed her only as a nuisance and an extra mouth to feed.Lightning Tree is starkly realistic, subtly tender, and tantalizingly mysterious It will appeal not only to young adults, but to readers of all ages It is the early 1800 s in Provo Utah and Maggie and sister Giovanna have been fostered by the Aldens for over 4 years, since their parents were killed Maggie never quite feels like she belongs with the Aldens and that she is treated as a 2nd class person because of her French Italian background Dressing in worn clothes she feels she is a charity case to those around her Maggie starts having dreams of guns and indians She dreams of wars and the death of her parents She dreams of a baby and i It is the early 1800 s in Provo Utah and Maggie and sister Giovanna have been fostered by the Aldens for over 4 years, since their parents were killed Maggie never quite feels like she belongs with the Aldens and that she is treated as a 2nd class person because of her French Italian background Dressing in worn clothes she feels she is a charity case to those around her Maggie starts having dreams of guns and indians She dreams of wars and the death of her parents She dreams of a baby and it s death Believing there must be truth to these dreams from her past, she begins to search for answers Untrusting to those around her, she becomes cold toward her foster parents and takes her sister on the run What I loved about this story is the focus on the dreams They were so real to Maggie, so detailed and set in how she believes the truth happened Though parts of her dreams were true, there were others that were not I liked this because so many people put too much into dreams at times, taking them as facts and like Maggie did, reacting to people based on these dreams The thoughts she had toward people were displaced and caused herheartache because she held them within This is a LDS novel, and I am not of the LDS denomination It did have some Brighham Young references, and some of the elder men had several wifes Weird, but that is the history of that religion It wasn t overly preachy or anything that someone not in LDS would be put off It was a great story about a family being created out of hardship and the love that they did in fact share for each other What a epic story to read I love reading fictions that are also based on history This young lady Maggie truly has had a hard life First with losing her parents on the trek to Utah, then losing her baby sister after the family who took them in settled in the valley So many different emotions plague this book and you cant help feel what Maggie is feeling in the many situations that make themselves known throughout the book The truth whether you want to hear it or not can change the course of What a epic story to read I love reading fictions that are also based on history This young lady Maggie truly has had a hard life First with losing her parents on the trek to Utah, then losing her baby sister after the family who took them in settled in the valley So many different emotions plague this book and you cant help feel what Maggie is feeling in the many situations that make themselves known throughout the book The truth whether you want to hear it or not can change the course of your future Sarah Dunster wrote a gripping story with tragedy, family, love, friendship, sorrow, and strength to endure It shows how much a family, whether biological or adopted needs to have the love and acceptance of one another or things can get misinterpreted and people end up getting hurt Pick up this book and get to know Maggie through the Author s eyes Here are some links to check out if you want to knowabout this book I must admit I was initially drawn to this book because of the cover, but once I started reading the story I quickly realized that this book was a true gem.Magdalena Maggie Chabert has been plagued with dreams that she just can t figure out It is understandable though, because her parents and baby sister died while traveling across the praire to Provo She and her sister Giovanna were taken in by the Alden s after her parents died, and Ma Alden had always told her there was nothing left of he I must admit I was initially drawn to this book because of the cover, but once I started reading the story I quickly realized that this book was a true gem.Magdalena Maggie Chabert has been plagued with dreams that she just can t figure out It is understandable though, because her parents and baby sister died while traveling across the praire to Provo She and her sister Giovanna were taken in by the Alden s after her parents died, and Ma Alden had always told her there was nothing left of her families belongings and Maggie had believed this for four years When she discovers a secret though she wonders if perhaps Ma Alden has lied to her, and if so what really happened As her dreams seem to jar loose long buried memories, she knows she should feel gratitude toward the Alden s for taking in her and her sister, but she can t help but want answers, and becomes determined to find out the truth This book was set during the 1800 s and the author easily pulled me into that time While I had to try and figure out some of Maggie s writing,as the story unfolds I began to understand why The author also uses a certain dialect that further drew me into the time period.While times were hard, there was a sense of community and sharing, although I did think it was a bit harsh that Ma Alden often reminded Maggie of the fact that she had taken them in It was easy to feel the turmoil that Maggie was experiencing I could easily understand how Maggie s dreams would make her want to know the truth She was also dealing with the fact that her friend Mariah moved away, and her relationship with her friend Henry was changing.Overall an interesting coming of age story that would appeal to anyone who enjoys good historical fiction I found this to be a very interesting book Maggie is such a likeable heroine She tries hard to do what is right has realistic faults makes mistakes and tries to learn from them I felt connected with Maggie and ached for her as she made painful discoveries about her past The story progressed well and while it did not have the ending I expected, it ended well There were many interesting twists to this story events did not always progress as you would have expected, so it keeps the reader o I found this to be a very interesting book Maggie is such a likeable heroine She tries hard to do what is right has realistic faults makes mistakes and tries to learn from them I felt connected with Maggie and ached for her as she made painful discoveries about her past The story progressed well and while it did not have the ending I expected, it ended well There were many interesting twists to this story events did not always progress as you would have expected, so it keeps the reader on their toes a bit I really liked this aspect of the book and felt it helped to draw me into the story further.Another interesting aspect of this story was its historical setting We often find stories written of pioneers crossing the plains, but this story takes place in the early days of the Utah settlement, during the furor and backlash from the Mountain Meadows Massacre Tension definitely runs deep throughout this tale, with fingers pointing in many directions and everybody talking, and yet not really talking about what truly happened This was a great read that had everything I would want in a novel First off I loved the main character Maggie and felt the author painted a very 3 dimensional view of who she was Her internal dialog was very realistic and she was likable Second, I loved the setting Despite the fact that I am LDS and have lived in the areas depicted in the story, I know little to nothing of the controversy in that particular era The author addressed it well and it provided a unique backdrop without overshado This was a great read that had everything I would want in a novel First off I loved the main character Maggie and felt the author painted a very 3 dimensional view of who she was Her internal dialog was very realistic and she was likable Second, I loved the setting Despite the fact that I am LDS and have lived in the areas depicted in the story, I know little to nothing of the controversy in that particular era The author addressed it well and it provided a unique backdrop without overshadowing the drama provided by Maggie s internal struggles with herself, her past, and her feelings I feel that too often books that have anything to do with pioneers become very religious or just boring retellings of common events in LDS church history with fictitious characters pasted in as a mere after thought This was very much opposite very character driven The only characters I wantedon would be the Forths and possibly Ma Alden The relationship with Henry was written beautifully Last, I loved the metaphors and other literary devices the author used in her writing They were very appropriate to the time period and mostly felt natural Any of the ones that felt contrived or forced at all were so clever that it still didn t bother me I would recommend this as a great read for a book club .FREE EBOOK ♄ Lightning Tree ♦ After surviving the tragic deaths of her parents and her baby sister and a harrowing trek across the plains to Utah, it s no surprise that Maggie s nights are plagued by nightmares But after years of harsh treatment by her foster family and memories that seem to hint at an unthinkable crime, Maggie is forced to strike out on her own to separate the facts from the lies This story is a good example of how we can get caught up in our own heads and can let nighttime dreams and half forgotten memories taint our reality As we go through life and deal with difficulties and poor treatment from others it is easy to let resentment make things worse than they would have been otherwise I found myself wondering right along with Maggie if her dreams were accurate or not and feeling her pain as she tried to sort through things as she slowly starts to discover what really This story is a good example of how we can get caught up in our own heads and can let nighttime dreams and half forgotten memories taint our reality As we go through life and deal with difficulties and poor treatment from others it is easy to let resentment make things worse than they would have been otherwise I found myself wondering right along with Maggie if her dreams were accurate or not and feeling her pain as she tried to sort through things as she slowly starts to discover what really happened.This book is set in a Mormon settlement in the days before Utah became a state but there is very little talk of any religious concepts I think this would allow any who enjoy historical fiction to enjoy this book regardless of religious affiliation Be prepared to cry and hurt, but then hope as you read Lightning Tree Maggie is such a strong character who is completely unaware of her own inner strength She is also flawed, but who isn t Things I thought about How accurate are dreams How accurate is our perception of family members Can we have a flawed recollection of events in the past How does that recollection color our views of family members Can siblings have different recollections of past events than us The strength it takes t Be prepared to cry and hurt, but then hope as you read Lightning Tree Maggie is such a strong character who is completely unaware of her own inner strength She is also flawed, but who isn t Things I thought about How accurate are dreams How accurate is our perception of family members Can we have a flawed recollection of events in the past How does that recollection color our views of family members Can siblings have different recollections of past events than us The strength it takes to admit you re wrong and seeking forgiveness, and finally the peace we receive when we have made it right The dangers of pride There are people who love us as much as family and how pride can color our views of them as well Well written This is a lovely book, a wonderful tale of coming of age, a family mystery of sorts and characters that are fully fleshed and tightly drawn Some readers may struggle with the dialect but I think they will still easily drop into the story without much difficulty Although this probably isn t a good title for reluctant readers, fans of the Little House series and American Girl books will relish this title I found the description hauntingly realistic and the writing lyrical enough to draw me in This is a lovely book, a wonderful tale of coming of age, a family mystery of sorts and characters that are fully fleshed and tightly drawn Some readers may struggle with the dialect but I think they will still easily drop into the story without much difficulty Although this probably isn t a good title for reluctant readers, fans of the Little House series and American Girl books will relish this title I found the description hauntingly realistic and the writing lyrical enough to draw me into the daily hardships of the time period I look forward to readingfrom this author.ARC Galley Proof