the_crooked_branchReviewed by Krystal Larson

The Irish potato famine was a major part of early American history. The migration of millions of Irish only added to the rich American culture that was being pieced together. The Crooked Branch centers around that history and culture, providing the reader with a glimpse into the lives of people affected by the Irish potato famine as well as an interesting look at how one’s ancestors can affect their future.

Majella is worried. She has recently given birth and pictures her newborn dying all the time. She recognizes that this is more than just “postpartum depression” and looks into her past to see if anyone in her family suffered from it, as well. What she finds is both incredibly interesting and the basis of a fascinating story: Ginny, her relative who lived during the Irish potato famine, left a diary that might just set Majella straight about her heritage.

Majella’s character was nice, but didn’t stand out as much to me as Ginny’s. Majella was pitiable; it must be terrible to picture one’s child dying and living with the constant worry. However, she complains far too much about her husband (it takes two to make a child). It’s easy to become turned off on a whiny character. Ginny, on the other hand, displayed the resilience and effortless calm (in a sea of insecurity) that will impress the reader. She worked hard for her family and when the famine hit, she tried her darnedest to ensure everyone survived. But how far would she go to make sure that her family was safe? These two characters are the focus of the novel with their family members acting as supporting characters, providing insights into Majella’s and Ginny’s individual characters. It was difficult to choose an absolute favorite, but I loved Ginny.

The plot of the novel was richly laid-out. Jeanine Cummins dealt with the influx of changing emotion with a light hand; it was easy to experience the characters’ emotions alongside them. I loved how Cummins tied in a medical issue with family history and really went straight to the heart. She managed to make me care about the characters and hope for the best. Overall, this book would be terrific for adult readers who enjoy a little history with their fiction.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Krystal is a young college student who loves meeting new authors and finding great books! Her favorite place to read is the Botanic Gardens.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.