Reviewed by Elizabeth Zender
A coming of age story to remember
Marie is a small child growing up in post-war Germany, searching for understanding.She is an insightful and seemingly lonely young girl who clings to the safety of her castle in Falkenburg.
There, she learns how to read with help from her sister and acquires an endless thirst for knowledge. She finds comfort within the stone walls of the castle, even when faced with the tyranny of her mother. The chapel offers a sanctuary along with stories of the past.
Marie’s youth is full of trials and tribulations though. Not only does she lose her beloved castle, she ends up living with unforgiving nuns in a children’s home at the height of her family’s poverty.
Marie faces the terrors of her mother’s unpredictable moods or the orphanage with a desire to understand. She has questions about and compassion for the world she lives in rather than growing cold because of it.
Her insight extends to World War II as well. Sheltered from it at the beginning of her life, Marie still perceives that it is bigger than just a war, saying, “Though [it] had ended years ago, I somehow felt that it wasn’t really over. Like blood under a scar. If you scratch, it bleeds out.” This sentiment echoes throughout the spaces in her life; sometimes the war is inside of your home as well.
Burns masterfully instills the same compassion and understanding in readers as in Marie. The writing in the story is smooth and flowing. Burns breaks Marie’s story down into sections based on locations with their own new challenges and triumphs. It’s a coming of age story featuring a young girl who is wiser than her years and is a testament to what a thirst for knowledge can do for different parts of you.
This story of understanding and acceptance is a great one to get you out of a reading slump. If you need something to get you back on track with your reading goal, you cannot go wrong with Stone Mother. You’re going to love it. It is two parts “growing up” and three parts “coming to terms with life.” Burns has infused the essence of coming of age in this captivating historical drama.
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