Under The Hawthorn Tree

A few years ago one of my darlings quite successfully lied to me. Everyday my kids meet with me for Minute With Mom and have to tell me what they studied about the day before. One of my little darlings would tell me about the books she read the day before, and the fool that I am, just believed that she had actually read them. Instead of reading any of her books, she just sat there staring at them, and then made up some pretty amazing stories about the books.

She finally got caught when she misspelled Mona Lisa. I told her to grab her Leonardo Da Vinci book so we could look up how to spell it correctly. The fear was quite evident in her little face as she thumbed her way through the book; I’m sure just praying that somewhere it mentioned Mona Lisa. The famous painting was no were to be found and tears immediately began to flow as she came clean with her crime. She hadn’t read any of her books for two months!

Part of me was impressed at how well she made up several complete books, but the other part of me realized that I better know what in the world my kids are reading, instead of just handing them books that I’ve never heard of. I started to pre-read a lot of my kids’ books after this little incident. Now it’s not always feasible for me to pre-read every book my kids read, so I just do my best.

One of the books I read this year was Under The Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna. It was a book assigned to two of my kids in their homeschool co-op class. It’s a small read with only 119 pages, so I knew I would be able to get through this one.

It’s a historical fiction of a small family in the 1800s during the famine in Ireland. Three young children are left to fend for themselves. They are alone, starving, and scared, and their only hope is find their great-aunts. They only know their great-aunts through their mother’s stories, and pray that they will be able to help them.

I full on cried in this book. It is an absolutely beautiful and heart wrenching story. My son 12, and my daughter 10, both loved the story too. It opened up the door to some pretty amazing conversations when they found out that this was based on true events.

I give this book two enthusiastic thumbs up. It is a great book just to read, and a really great book to read if you are studying Ireland’s history. There are more books in the series, but I haven’t read them yet. Sometimes when the first book is so good, I get worried that the following books might ruin it, but that’s just because I’m weird.