Archives For Nicole Baart

Yay! It’s Book Club Day! The February Free-for-all and Friday are both finally here! I hope you’re ready to tell us all about the book you read. If you’re a blogger, you know what to do–enter your blog post in the linky list at the end of this post. If you’re not a blogger and want to share, just write about your book in the comments section. Then lets all hop around and comment on each others’ reviews.

I’ll leave this post up for the weekend. And just for fun, if we have enough participation, I have a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway to share with one fortunate reviewer.

This month I chose to read Nicole Baart’s beautiful coming-of-age novel, After the Leaves Fall, which focuses on the life of a young girl named Julia. Here’s how the story begins . . .

“Waiting is a complicated longing. I lost my father when I was fifteen, and I’ve been waiting ever since . . .

I began to exist in a tension between wanting and not wanting—waiting for something I couldn’t even pin down in my most naked and honest moments. Waiting for a balance where I neither ached nor forgot, regretted nor accepted. Waiting for my heart to be light again yet fearing the implications of that same lightness. I suppose I waited for peace—an end to my own personal warfare . . .”

Then Julia’s grandmother shares the words of wisdom from which the novel takes its title: “‘You know what my favorite time of year is?’

I blinked for the first time in minutes and looked up at her. ‘Huh?’

She continued without looking down at me, ‘I love it best when the leaves fall.’

I didn’t know what to say.

‘Lots of people like autumn because the leaves turn such pretty colors.’ Grandma smiled at this as if she had a secret, something sweet and unforeseen that she was going to share with me. I watched the familiar, wrinkled profile soften. ‘I like it when all those leaves fall because it’s such a small thing that means so very much.’ Pulling her hand out of mine, she turned to me and tilted my face toward her own. ‘Do you know what I mean?’

I didn’t.

She searched my face. ‘There’s this subtle sadness—winter is coming, and it’s going to be hard and cold. And there’s a feeling of good-bye. But there’s also . . .’ She searched for the right word. ‘Suspense? Maybe hope? Because it’s not over, everything is just waiting for spring. Do you know what I mean?’

Grandma sounded expectant, and I smiled at her because I loved her better than anyone else in the world now that Dad was gone. ‘I think so,’ I said quietly.

‘You can see more clearly when it’s all stripped bare. You can see that everything gets to be new.’ Grandma smiled at me with every hope for our future shining in her eyes. ‘That’s the good part.’

A gust of wind from the southwest shot through the trees and showered us with cold water and soggy leaves that were anything but hopeful.

I’ve been waiting a long time for the good part . . .”

My take on the story: This young heroine crept into my heart. At times her words reminded me of things I have felt and struggled with. Other times, I simply wanted to be the mother she was longing for. As I read, I kept thinking of the verse, “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)

I hurt with Julia as she struggled to become a new creation without the power of the Savior. I wished she hadn’t chosen to learn so much the hard way. However, though some of her missteps were painful, the end of the book brought hope and healing.

BTW, I would welcome her wonderful grandmother into my home any day! When I was a teen, I would’ve loved to know someone like Julia’s Grandma–just to sit at her feet and soak in all she’d learned about God and His ways . . . As you can tell, these characters seemed very real to me! Continue Reading…