Title: What You Said to Me
Author: Olivia Newport
Series: Tree of Life, book 4
Major Themes: Genealogy, Colorado, Christian Fiction
Synopsis: When her father announces to Jillian that she needs help on her research project, Jillian is sure he is wrong—and even more sure when she meets the help he has lined up for her, a troubled 15-year-old who was caught shoplifting and sentenced to community service!
I’ve been reading the Tree of Life series since the first one was published. I have enjoyed all of them, but they keep getting better and better. Each one features Jillian, a genealogist, who meets a troubled person and unravels their family tree to find out why they react the way they do to things that happen. In the first two books, it felt somewhat forced, but the third and fourth felt a lot more natural. I especially liked this fourth book, What You Said to Me.
Jillian is stunned when Nolan, her father, informs her that she needs a helper—and furthermore, the helper is arriving now. Yes, she knows that the dining table is buried under piles and piles of old folders that need to be organized for the project she’s been hired to do—but surely she can handle this without 15-year-old Tisha Crowder’s help? And Tisha’s attitude doesn’t make it any easier. What is behind the girl’s attitudes and actions, anyway?
The story flips back and forth between Jillian, Nolan and Tisha, in Canyon Mines, Colorado, in the present, and a family in 1893 Denver. I found myself caught up in both stories, eager to see how the two intersected. I also wanted to see if there was any way that Jillian could help Tisha out of the generations of bitterness, anger, and distrust that plagued her family and caused her problems. Nolan was sure she could—but how?
One thing I really like about this series is that there isn’t a lot of romance. There is a little, in the third book and also in this one, but it’s a very minor element. A few kisses were alluded to, but not much more. I also enjoy Nolan and his cooking and opera singing! He’s a very fun character. There is not a strong Christian message, but the story is very clean and reflects a Christian worldview. As I said to begin, I really enjoyed What You Said to Me, and I’m looking forward to the next one. There are loose ends from books three and four that have not been tied up yet!
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and CelebrateLit, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: A mob scene and lynching are described in Chapter 18.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults