THE BUTTERNUT TREE, Maureen Kostalnick
Author Maureen Kostalnick gives readers a glimpse at her own life in her novel based on a true story of an unspeakable crime, THE BUTTERNUT TREE. With powerfully moving prose and a distinct ability for recollection, Kostalnick transports readers into the world of her youth as she recounts the story of her upbringing in a small Ohio town in the 1940's.
Kostalnick begins her story interestingly; with the story of another. In 1928, Kostalnick's mother, Laura, was the victim of a violent and senseless sexual assault. However, in that time, regardless of a woman's innocence, a sexual assault on her would brand her "tarnished" by all those who knew her, even after she built a life, home, and family for herself.
Because of this assault, Kostalnick's mother was a great concern for her; as a young child, she often prayed to God to make her mother well. Maureen, only a child at the time, did not understand the nature of her mother's despair, nor did she understand why people in her town whispered quietly amongst themselves and seemed to pass judgment on Maureen's family. Growing up without a father, Maureen sought comfort in Billy, her childhood friend, Lassie, her dog, and an old butternut tree down by the creek in which she fished.
It was to this butternut tree that Maureen would make a solemn vow: to have a better life when she grew up. Readers will be transported to the Ohio of Maureen's youth; to its dusty streets and quiet churches, and the ways in which Maureen reacts to everything around her. Kostalnick's strength is her ability to weave humor into her story, giving readers the wonderful chance to laugh and cry right along with her. And when Maureen finally gains a sense of vindication as an adult, readers will feel, too, her relief and sense of having truly left the past behind her.
Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick.
Maureen married her childhood sweetheart, Chuck, and lives in California in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. She has dedicated her life to her family, and to working with multi-handicapped children as a Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf. Maureen is widely recognized as an advocate for children with disabilities and those children who are forgotten.
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