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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Historical / General
  • Language:English
  • Series title:The Trees Remember
  • Series Number:1
  • Pages:400
  • eBook ISBN:9781667809083
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667809076

The Trees Inspire

by Joyce L. Kieffer

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The Trees Inspire is a historical novel about a young woman, REBECCA WAGNER, in 1890's central Pennsylvania who aspires to become something more than a farm girl. Raised among virgin forests, she is inspired by a Native American healer who uses trees and plants as medicine. Rebecca shows early promise as healer in her own right, and makes her way to the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses, newly established in the growing city of Baltimore, Maryland. Back home, the burgeoning lumber business threatens both earth and man, leaving a trail of desolation in its wake. Will Rebecca's journey lead her to a new life of privilege in the thriving, bustling city—or will she return home to help heal the people and forests she loves?
REBECCA WAGNER comes of age in the late 1890s while living on a farm surrounded by virgin timber in the Shade Mountains of Juniata County, Pennsylvania. Her world is threatened by conflict between her wish to become more than a farm girl and the contrasting expectations of those who love her. BACK SO STRAIGHT, a mysterious Native American healer who has lived on the edge of the farm for as long as Rebecca remembers, mentors her. She guides and advises the young woman and teaches her to use trees and plants as medicine. When the family barn burns down, there is little hope of recouping their loss. After the fire, the owner of a lumber company who is setting up lumber camps and mills in the surrounding mountains, offers lumber and money to rebuild the barn in exchange for 100 acres of virgin Wagner woodland. But in time it becomes clear that his motives are not entirely neighborly. Rebecca becomes friends with his daughter MAGGIE and Maggie's friend LILLY. Their families' luxurious lifestyle gives Rebecca a glimpse of what it would be like to live without housework, farm chores and taking care of aging grandparents. Her relationship with her two friends grows with each excursion into the forests. Although they marvel at Rebecca's knowledge of the mountains and wildlife, danger from animals and a rogue lumbermill worker threatens them. Over the next few years, the three young women form a bond that will be severely tested by violence and the distance between them. Rebecca meets BEN, a young man who runs his family's carriage business. She falls in love and hopes to someday plan a future with him. However, the rogue lumberman also tries to win her affection, but when she refuses to return his efforts, he harasses and stalks her. She tries to avoid him but his attempts to intimidate her escalate. Despite her struggles, Rebecca graduates from high school and accepts a sponsorship from the town doctor and Lilly's father to attend the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses. In Baltimore, she encounters people she's never seen—people of color, foreign-speaking immigrants—as well as diseases, poverty and back-breaking work that challenge her will to continue. There she meets CHRISTOPHER, a resident doctor from a prominent family who introduces her to the finer things in life. She risks all for him despite her promise to Ben, the man she gave her heart to in Juniata County. Although Rebecca graduates from nursing school with honors, a series of disappointments force her to return to the farm. Once there, she discovers the trees being clear-cut at an alarming rate, displacing animals and plants where rich diversity once thrived. Now it is up to her to decide her future as a young woman with limited life choices—and what, if anything, she can do about the disappearing forests surrounding her childhood home.
About the author

Drawing on her career in women's health and inspired by the forests of Juniata County, Pennsylvania, where she helped build a log cabin, Joyce envisioned a young woman's coming-of-age story. . . where a young woman began her journey to become a healer set against the backdrop of the early days of the State's burgeoning lumber industry— as thousands of acres of virgin timber fell to ever-wealthier lumber barons. The Trees Inspire is the first of three novels that trace the heroine's odyssey from her small family farm in the forest foothills— to the John's Hopkins Training School for Nurses—to the wild and dangerous lumber camps—and back home again as she uncovers her life purpose . . . and a few intriguing secrets along the way that change her life forever. Although the novel is set in the late 1800's and early 1900's, Joyce addresses the issues relevant to today: environmental; race, socioeconomics, and gender. Superimposed on these themes are the lush, beautiful forests and the flora and fauna that call them home, the rich cultural stories of life in rural Pennsylvania where farming is a way of life, and Native American wisdom and respect for the plants, soil, and water we all share. Joyce lives with her husband in central Pennsylvania, her daughters and their families nearby; a short hours' drive away from the mountain cabin in the Shade Mountains that birthed the idea for this story of courage, family and above all – truth.

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