Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Review: Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book (novel)

It deserves a wide audience

By William Silveira

I much enjoyed reading Shirley Skufca Hickman’s latest novel, Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book, as I did her previously published novel, Sarah Darlin’, and Don’t Be Give Up, an autobiographical story of the author’s childhood in the then coal mining town of Crested Butte, Colorado.
    Orange Tree has deservedly been lauded in this blog as casting needed light on the serious problems of undocumented immigrants to this country. And I agree it does just that. The author’s grasp of the complexity of our immigration laws and her ability to explain them in simple layman’s terms are excellent. She has a deep understanding of the social milieu of undocumented field workers in California’s Central Valley. Ms. Hickman expertly weaves this understanding together with her knowledge of her subjects’ legal and economic dilemmas to create a gripping and exciting story that is not easily put down once the reader is drawn into it by the very first page, which can be read along with the entire first chapter in the most recent “Third Saturday Fiction” column.
    However, Orange Tree is not just a modern day’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is that and much more. As she did in Sarah Darlin’ and Don’t Be Give Up, Ms. Hickman gives us a deft picture of the moral choices and social challenges faced by adolescent and preadolescent young women. These challenges, in different guises, are common to all young women growing up in this country. The characters in these books (from very different times and places) develop self-reliance, self-confidence, and strong moral fiber under very difficult circumstances. We cannot help but identify with them and admire them for it.
    Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book deserves a wide audience.

Copyright © 2014 by William Silveira
William Silveira is a retired judge. In 1958-59, his junior year at Tulare Union High School, he took a speech class from Ms. Skufca and served under her advice as the student director for the junior class play, which she directed – as she would the following year direct the senior class play. Judge Silveira has been a life-long friend of the author and her husband.

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