Dutton, Jun 2002, 23.95, 336 pp.
As children, sisters Grace and Melanie never felt close to their parents, who for whatever reason never blanketed the siblings with nurturing love. Now as an adult with her own child, Grace feels her marriage mirrors that of her parents though she showers love on her cherished daughter Kate. Suffering from a recurring nightmare of drowning, Grace believes she has no one to turn to for help especially her parents and her husband.
When her parents suddenly die in a tragedy, Grace inherits their Canterbury Island home in New York. Surprising everyone, Grace decides to spend New Year's at the house rather than her annual time with family members. There Grace looks into her family history guided by local fisherman Luke Keegan, who will help her with her past and perhaps attain a loving future if she heeds Melanie's advice.
THE PUZZLE BARK TREE is an engaging character study that ties the shrouded past with an unhappy present in a finding one's true self story line. The tale turns overly emotional at times, but the audience will devour all that angst as Grace seeks contentment learning a life lesson of “to thine own self be true”. Fans of insightful contemporary fiction will want to join Grace on her journey to Nirvana that Stephanie Gertler portrays so eloquently.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner