Txkimmers's Reviews > Beyond the Pawpaw Trees: The Story of Anna Lavinia

Beyond the Pawpaw Trees by Palmer Brown
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's review
Mar 15, 2012

it was amazing

"Things close at hand were puzzling. Only when today was rolled up in a little ball and became yesterday could you really begin to understand it." --Anna Lavinia

Have you ever re-read a beloved childhood book, and in re-experiencing all the things about it that you loved especially much as a child, suddenly see yourself in a way you never could have at the time? I had a similarly bittersweet experience reading this suddenly back-in-print book.

Anna Lavinia lives in a charming but utterly isolated country house with her harried, distracted and moody mother, waiting for an absentee father to return home. As a child, I felt an instant connection to her, as I lived in a divorced parent household with a permanently harried, distracted and moody mother, and had given up waiting for my absentee father to come visit.

But of course Anna Lavinia's house is much nicer than mine was, with its delicate china bowls and silver spoons for oatmeal, its hedgehog in the garden, its constant scent of cooking pawpaw jelly, and its lavender blue sky that brings adventures. Anna Lavinia goes on an absolutely marvelous adventure, which comprises the rest of the book, one that results in her own independence, a clean break from her mother's way of seeing the world, and a reunion that enables Anna Lavinia to help her mother end her long days of melancholy disconnection.

Anna Lavinia's adventure is a powerful wish fulfillment and hero's journey for any child of a single parent home, and when I look back and now understand better why it had such a hold on me, I love this book that much more.

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