From the publisher:
A young artist forges a path of self-discovery in an enriching novel about forgiving the past and embracing second chances, from the bestselling author of An Unfinished Story.
Maine, 1969. After losing her parents in a car accident, aspiring artist Annalisa Mancuso lives with her grandmother and their large Italian family in the stifling factory town of Payton Mills. Inspired by her mother, whose own artistic dreams disappeared in a damaged marriage, Annalisa is dedicated only to painting. Closed off to love, and driven as much by her innate talent as she is the disillusionment of her past, Annalisa just wants to come into her own.
The first step is leaving Payton Mills and everything it represents. The next, the inspiring opportunities in the city of Portland and a thriving New England art scene where Annalisa hopes to find her voice. But she meets Thomas, an Ivy League student whose attentions―and troubled family―upend her pursuits in ways she never imagined possible. As their relationship deepens, Annalisa must balance her dreams against an unexpected love. Until the unraveling of an unforgivable lie.
For Annalisa, opening herself up to life and to love is a risk. It might also be the chance she needs to finally become the person and the artist she’s meant to be.
Boo Walker’s beautifully written coming of age story (after An Unfinished Story) is set against the backdrop of the unpopular Vietnam War. We get to view life in those turbulent times through the eyes of a young artist, Annalisa Mancuso. Annalisa tragically lost her parents when she was young, and her Nonna stepped in and took care of her. Annalisa remembered her mother’s creativity being stifled in her marriage, and as an artist herself, is determined to never let that happen. The only path she sees forward is to live in solitude, but when she meets Thomas, he changes the trajectory of her life in more ways than she could ever imagine.
Annalisa’s goal to escape the small town in Maine where she grew up and move to Portland is realized. There she finds a thriving art community, a teacher, and a gallery owner who recognize and encourage her talent. Meanwhile, Thomas’s wealthy family threatens to cut him off unless he ends things with Annalisa.
Annalisa grows up the hard way when Thomas loses his deferment and is sent to Vietnam. She breaks up with him so she can concentrate on her art, but she still feels their connection. They correspond during the war, and she spends a week with him in Hawaii when he gets some leave. Annalisa is torn between following her dream or her heart and has many difficult decisions to make.
Verdict: Walker’s latest is ideal for book discussion groups and should appeal to readers who enjoyed Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Dance Away with Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or the emotional resonance of Nicholas Sparks’ books.
©Library Journal, 2021
8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE SINGING TREES by Boo Walker. Lake Union Publishing (August 3, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542019125. 429 pages.