It’s been a while since I sat down to read a book that I could not put down. Watching the Tree Limbs is exactly that type of book. Author Mary DeMuth hooked me from the moment the book opens with “Folks like my friend Camilla have lofty goals before they die, like stealing a kiss from a movie star or seeing the Sahara. Mine’s quite simple. I want to tell my story unsevered, as if it was actually me walking the sweltering pavement of Burl, Texas.” Half-way through the book, I purchased the sequel because I knew that I was not going to be able to wait to start the next one once I finished.
What I love about Mary’s storytelling is that she paints a poignant, beautiful picture of redemption and Christ’s unconditional love without feeling like it’s preachy or spoken with an ulterior motive. Certainly, Mary desires to share her faith through her words, but she chooses to show, rather than tell. The redemption story is so woven into the development of the characters and the movement of the book, that you can’t separate it out and say, “here’s the author’s agenda.” In fact, it’s the way I think my friend Mary lives her life: you can’t say, here’s the spiritual part of Mary’s life and here’s the rest. As a result, I feel comfortable – even encourage – recommending this book to non-believers.
But have no doubts, just because it’s “Christian fiction” does not mean that it is not a good story. Mary uses her words like a paintbrush on canvas, encouraging the reader at times to simply marvel at the intricacy of details and overall artistry of the story. I laughed, I cried and I connected with the characters. I couldn’t read fast enough, and yet wanted to savor every word. I won’t share much about the story itself; I’ll leave that to you to experience fresh. Know that Mary addresses some tough issues, and at times she reaches out and squeezes your heart just enough that it aches, but that pain only leads you to a greater appreciation for the redemption offered to the characters in the book (and to us, through Jesus Christ).
Please don’t think I gush just because Mary is my friend. If I thought her book stunk, I would let you know. But I don’t, and knowing her heart just makes it that much sweeter to recommend it to you. Mary graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me to post here, so I will leave you with our short little interview.
1) What has Maranatha taught you about redemption?
She has shown me that it’s possible to be redeemed even when life looks pretty bleak. God stoops best when He stoops to impossible situations like Maranatha’s.
2) What do you hope readers walk away from your book thinking about and feeling?
I hope the story sticks with them, that they can’t get it out of their heads. I hope they’ve been challenged in their perception of God and people. I pray they want to live better, more Jesus-breathed lives, having experienced the lives of the characters in the book.
3) Have you re-read your book since you wrote it? If so, does any character or scene strike you differently or teach you something new? If not, why not?
I’ve re-read the intro. Of course I pick it apart, wondering if I should’ve used this word or that. I recently received an email from a reader who lamented she’d not turned in someone who’d attacked her. I’d forgotten about the courtroom scene where Maranatha does just that. I’m thankful it had an impact, but I also hope that readers will know it’s never easy to tell about abuse.
4) Do you feel like you view life a little differently, now that you have interacted with Maranatha and the characters in WTTL? If yes, how so?
Yes. I always wanted a Zady in my life, but never had one. Now I want to be one. I hope I can be one.
5) On a personal note, what do you feel like God is teaching you during this season of Lent, as we prepare for the glory of Easter morning?
Mainly just the loss of it all. I again am struck with the reason Jesus was crucified. It’s a fascinating study if you look up the word envy or jealousy. Several times in the NT, the Pharisees are seen as being envious of Jesus. We think envy is no big deal, but it’s huge. HUGE. Envy crucified Jesus!