The Whispering of the Willows by Tonya Jewel Blessing


The Whispers of the Willows, written by Tonya Jewel Blessing, is set in the holler in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1920’s. This is a great story that shows some of the life situations of the area.

Ahab Ashby came home from the war injured and unable to work his hog farm. He also became a cold hurtful man and takes it out on his family. His wife allows him to hurt the children and make bad choices for them. Their oldest son has teamed up with the pastor’s son making moonshine. Their second son, Ernest, is the one that is tending the farm and pigs and helping his sisters. Once a girl graduates and is able to have a family, the parents find a husband for her and she spends the rest of her life having children and working very hard. Emerald Ashby is just fifteen years old and graduating from the eighth grade. Ahab has arranged for her to marry, Charlie, the pastor’s son. The day she graduates, Charlie rapes her and leaves her pregnant. When she reports this, her parents no longer want her, so she goes to live with Aunt Ada.

Under Ada’s care and teachings, Emie is able to move on with her life and work on healing from the abuse she has suffered. When Ada teaches Emie how to do a new thing, she teaches it with lessons from the Bible. Ada teaches Emie how to make baskets that she is able to sell. Ernest continues to watch out for Emie after she moves to Ada’s. He spends his night sleeping on the porch to protect her.

This is such a good story. There are topics in the story that are hard to read, such as the rape and abuse. This is a fast paced story with so many twists and turns in the story that it was hard for me to put down. I just wanted to keep reading to see how each difficult situation would be solved. I enjoyed the use of hymns in the story. I also enjoyed reading of the strength and generosity of Aunt Ada. Her love for others is very evident by her actions. I think this story would be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys reading stories based during the early 1900’s.

The publisher has a note in the book that this book is for mothers and daughters to use as a mutual reading experience. The book combines women’s issues, the events surrounding Emie and the community. The story shows how girls are set apart from boys and how this can affect women.

I received this book through the BookCrash blogging program. I have written an honest review.

396 pages

ISBN: 9780997162547

Publisher: Capture books

To learn more about the author go to:

Some places to buy this book are:


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