Like the Willow Tree

The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce
Gr 3—6—Lydia Amelia Pierce, 11, and her older brother, Daniel, are sent to live in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, ME, after her parents die in the 1918 influenza epidemic. Lydia must become accustomed to living, working, and learning with the Shakers and the other orphaned or abandoned children cared for at the settlement. However, Daniel toys with the idea of running away, and does indeed leave for a time. Although Lydia worries about him, her time with the Shakers is marked by a sense of acceptance and appreciation for what she has. Effective use of detail and language immerses readers in Lydia's world, especially her life with the Shakers, making for a standout historical fiction read. The book covers just six months of the children's lives. Lydia grows and changes, but her development is slow and subtle as she learns to let go of her sorrow and appreciate the simple joys in life. Pages of historical notes and photographs at the end of the book provide thorough coverage of the epidemic as well as the Shakers and Sabbathday Lake. These notes are especially helpful in clarifying which parts of the story are real and which are fiction. Readers with a high interest in historical fiction or classes studying early 20 century America, and, of course, "Dear America" fans will appreciate this novel.—Heather Talty, Lower School Library, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City
After eleven-year-old Lydia and her brother are orphaned in the 1918 influenza epidemic, they're sent to live in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Lowry masterfully establishes character, situation, and place as the reader experiences, right along with Lydia, her early struggles and eventual acceptance of the ordered, industrious life of the Shakers. An excellent addition to the Dear America series.

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