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The Oak Leaves (The Oak Leaves Series #1) by…
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The Oak Leaves (The Oak Leaves Series #1)

by Maureen Lang

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Oak Leaves is a phenomenal look at disabled children, those that carry a gene called Fragile X. This book is not new, having been on my TBR (to be read) pile for a year or more, and was published in August 2011. I really enjoyed this book, and was disappointed when I came to the end of it. But then I found out there is another one...On Sparrow Hill which I find I also have! This story takes place now, but through a journal that Talie (Natalie) finds among her father's memorabilia we learn about her ancestors in 1848 as well. The ties that bind the two lives together are strong, and very poignant. I was not surprised to find out that this is a subject very close to Maureen's heart, for I felt the heart beat as I read it. Even though the events in the story did not effect me personally, they have changed the way I look at others, the way I feel for parents of disabled children, how I react. And that I believe is what a book should do! Very good! Thanks, Maureen for writing your heart out! ( )
1 vote mbarkman | Dec 10, 2013 |
I really liked this book. It was different from most Christian fiction I have read so far. It alternated perspectives between modern-day Chicago and Victorian Britain, which sounds confusing, but it wasn't; the back-and-forth was handled very well. I'm really bad at writing reviews, so that's all I'm going to say!

Historical inaccuracies:

There is a major problem with titles in this book. Cosima's aunt and uncle should have been referred to as Lord and Lady X (X being the name of the dukedom; I don't think the book even said what it was). Her aunt should not have been called Lady Meg unless she herself was the daughter of a high-ranking peer. Even then, it probably would have been Lady Margaret, not Lady Meg. Cosima's grandmother should have been called the Dowager Duchess of X, not Dowager Merit or Lady Merit. Also, the name Merit is a male name, so I don't know why she was named that!

Another big mistake is with the Hamilton family. Peter's father is a viscount, and is referred to as "Lord Graham Hamilton, viscount" several times. Peter is similarly referred to as Lord Peter or "Lord Peter Hamilton, baron". These are both very incorrect, and show the ignorance of the author on this subject. The Hamilton parents were usually referred to in the correct manner, Lord and Lady Hamilton (if Hamilton is the name of the viscounty). Peter should have been called Lord X (X being the name of the barony). He would never have been called Lord Peter. (If he was a younger son he would have been The Hon. Peter Hamilton) ( )
  kathleen586 | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book is about a woman finds a secret in a nineteenth- century family members journal that affects her whole family. I think that this was a decent book the only problem was that there was allot of filler before you got to the real meet of the book. It is a must reed for all new mothers though. It is all about God loving his children and everyone is special even if they have genetic problems.
This paperback book was bought at southern thrift ( )
  sallyawolf | Feb 25, 2013 |
Where I got the book: free on Kindle at publisher's discretion. Maureen is a friend in real life.

This inspirational novel has an alternating-chapter two-story structure, the linking factor being the genetic ties between the two female protagonists, Talie in the modern day and Cosima in the 19th century. But in this novel genetics don't just mean familial ties; the Fragile X gene runs through the two women's family giving rise to cognitively disabled children.

This setup would be bound to get me interested from the start, since I too have a child affected by a genetic disorder that causes a cognitive disability--although in our case there's been a "random mutation" rather than a hereditary disorder. The parallel structure of the novel allows the reader to explore changing attitudes toward disability and timeless questions of faith within a story that manages not to lay any of its themes down with too heavy a hand. It's definitely a Christian novel--I've noted that some reviewers found the Christian slant hard to deal with--but to anyone who is at all familiar with or receptive to the Christian faith, there are some thought-provoking insights into the nature of love and trust.

I found myself more drawn, at first, to the modern story because I identified with the characters' fear and confusion as they realize that a happy little boy is simply not progressing, intellectually speaking, beyond babyhood. I was nodding my head--oh yes, been there done that--at so many of the steps through denial, anger, grief and acceptance as they gradually grasp that the unthinkable has in fact happened to them. (Until it does happen, disabled children are generally on the periphery of your awareness!) It rang true because it's written from experience, although I wish I'd had the faith perspective back then.

The 19th-century story grew on me gradually; it came across as less real to me partly because it's a fairly straightforward romance plot, partly because it's set among the aristocracy and it's difficult to pull that world off on paper unless you're personally pretty familiar with it. Forms of address often give the writer away, and if anyone has a solid reference for writers about the nuances of class in British society, please speak up. In this instance the high-society setting had a point, because to a family expected to produce leaders of the country a less-than-able heir would be a considerable problem (although, from what I've read in and in between the lines, because of inbreeding it happened far more often than advertised). After a bit I warmed to this story line, mainly because Peter, the hero, was very nicely rounded out as a character with a lot more going for him than just being the inevitable broad-shouldered hunk. Also, Cosima's dilemma--revealing a genetic disorder that in those days was seen as a curse or stigma--was pretty interesting as far as obstacles to true love go. The one character who really didn't work for me was the rotter Reginald, Cosima's sort-of fiancé; I had the worst time understanding his motives and at one point found myself wondering whether he had a gay crush on Peter. I was wrong, of course; not that kind of novel.

All in all I found The Oak Leaves to be quite a page-turner and a whole lot more substantial than many inspirational romances, hence the four stars. ( )
  JaneSteen | May 22, 2012 |
This book is about a woman finds a secret in a nineteenth- century family members journal that affects her whole family. I think that this was a decent book the only problem was that there was allot of filler before you got to the real meet of the book. It is a must reed for all new mothers though. It is all about God loving his children and everyone is special even if they have genetic problems.
This paperback book was bought at southern thrift ( )
  sallyawolf | Jun 24, 2010 |
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The two time periods of Regency England and contemporary Chicago are interwoven when Talie Ingram finds her great-great-great grandmother's journal and discovers that her family was once considered cursed as a result of a genetic disorder.

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