I discovered this author a few months ago when my neighbor brought the book Bygones over for me to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Bygones and look forward to the rest of the books in that series.
So I was thrilled when I saw Where Willows Grow in the New Fiction section at the library. There is no doubt that Sawyer has been added to my favorite authors list.
Willows is set in 1936 rural Kansas. Anna Mae and Harley Phipps, along with their two young daughters, are striving to make ends meet after the depression and in the midst of a long drought. They are barely eeking out a living when Harley learns of a WPA project in another part of the state. Without discussing it with Annie, he sells their mules, buys up groceries for the family and announces he is leaving. Annie is hurt and angered at his announcement and after a night of harsh words, Harley leaves.
Jack, a neighbor, steps in to help Annie while Harley is gone. He totes their milk and eggs to town, takes Annie and her girls to church, and checks on them regularly. Annie is certain Jack is just doing the neighborly thing, afterall Harley asked him to keep an eye on his girls, but Jack has a different agenda. He has love Annie for as long as he can remember and he sees this as an opportunity to steal back what he believes is rightly his.
Through a course of events, Anna Mae receives only 1 letter and 1 paycheck from Harley and he received none of her correspondance. And over time news comes that there has been a tragedy on the job site.
This is a tail of two stubborn souls who shut each other out and who shut out the Lord. Harley is determined not to believe in God. Annie does, but she finds that she is living life on her terms not His. Over time their hearts are softened towards their Father and each other, just as the hard Kansas soil is softened by the soft rains.