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Karen C Brown

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If The Tree Could Talk (oh what stories it would tell)
by Karen C Brown   

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Publisher:  BrownCo Publishing Type: 


Copyright:  2009 ISBN-13:  9780982463000

The Family Tree in the small town of Top Water, Louisiana takes on a different meaning for the Greenson family. For in their front yard is literally a family tree, however, you must understand, that it is not just any old tree, but one that is almost like the biblical Tree of Life and Knowledge. Under that tree many major decisions were made: marriage proposals, birth announcements, heart breaks, and other let downs, and news of a loved one passing away.

Everything was talked about under this tree, even a decision that drastically affected the life of 12-year-old Callie Greenson, better known as Sweetie Pie. Precocious and wise beyond her years, she feels it is her right to know what is going on in the lives of her parents, siblings and friends. One evening as the family is gathered under the big old tree in their yard, Sweetie Pie notices a serious conversation between her parents.
Little does she know that the conversation was about her and a secret involving her parents, and three of their friends! Come along on a diabolical journey in “If the Tree Could Talk (oh, what stories it would tell)” that will test the patience and trust of everyone involved. In this story of lost love, betrayal, manipulation and finally the hope that springs eternal when love and trust, is renewed once again.
BrownCo Publishing

Trade paperback
5.5 x 8.5
200 pages
Product Category: Mainstream Fiction
Distributors: BrownCo Publishing
Special Features: Gloss soft cover, book mark included
ISBN-13: 978-0-9824630-0-0
Price: $12.95



I am the youngest of 11 children and I tell you, that is not one of the best places to be in the food chain. For one damn thing you get overlooked quite a bit, and your views and opinions don’t matter to anyone but you. One of these days I’m gonna shake them all up. Just wait and see. I have had to fight for rightful attention all of my days and frankly I am getting sick of this shit. I guess in order for you to know what the heck is going on, I should start from the beginning. Hold on to your wig because the stuff that I am about to share is gonna get real crazy at times. You ready?

Let me first say that I apologize in advance for anything that I might say that could be offensive. I live in a small Southern town which is very lovely. We have one high school, one elementary school and about two or three daycare centers. Makes you wonder what happens by the time folks get to the higher grades in school? Do they leave town or what? It seems to be more kids in the daycares than there are in the regular school.

Maybe it’s just me. By the way, my name is Sweetie Pie. At least that is what I thought it was until I started school. Parents should let the children know what their real names are before they send them off to school. That way, when the teacher calls your name you won’t just sit there like a knot on a log not answering to the name your folks actually have you. Well, anyway my real name is Callie Greenson. What a name. I’ll tell you, I like Sweetie Pie better.

I live on a dead end street in Top Water, Louisiana and in my front yard there is this tree. It’s not just any old tree. In a way it is almost like the Tree of Life and Knowledge. Lord, the conversations that have taken place under this tree. Many major decisions were made here: marriage proposals, birth announcements, heart breaks, and other let downs, decisions to divorce, (those were not necessarily made by my family members) and news of a loved one passing away.
Every thing was talked about under this tree. So you see why I say it’s almost like the Tree of Life and Knowledge. For some reason, comfort could be found under that tree. Nobody ever figured out why. Personally, I felt that the tree had magical powers. Why else would people talk about personal and life-altering things there? The old folks in Top Water say that the tree was akin to a truth serum. If you did not want to be put on the spot, you had better keep yourself and your business from under that tree because before you knew it, you would be telling all your business to who ever happens to sit with you there.

It was under that tree that I found out that I wasn’t a true member of the Greenson family. I always thought that there was something different about me, but I could never figure out what it could be. Sure, I had the same skin-tone as everyone else and the same nappy hair as all the other kids in the family. However, I had these huge eyes and get this-they were green. Can you imagine a dark-skinned child with green eyes? I was the source of so much teasing and taunting. In fact, I had to whip an ass or two because of it. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you the story about how things are in this small town. Be patient now, I’ll get to the part of my finding out about myself soon enough.
The Greenson family consisted of Papa Jack, Mama Mandy, and my brothers and sisters: J.J. (you guessed it, Jack Junior); Lady (that really is her name); Harry, Sallie Ann, Tina, Terry (no, not twins); Leland, Tyler, Ray, Olivia and then me. I am the baby of the family. We live in a modest-size house, especially since it was so many of us.

My dad was a truck driver for a lumber company. Mom was a stay-at-home mom and it wasn’t because Daddy made a lot of money. That is just the way it was. There were no jobs for my mom to do other than domestic work which she would do from time to time when she wanted to buy something that could not come out of Daddy’s paycheck. For the most part, she was always home. That was a good thing for us growing up. There was always food on the table and we had no clue that we were poor. Shit, everybody in the neighborhood was poor. We just didn’t know it. It seems that some people had a little more than others, but it still wasn’t a lot. “Callie, I am gonna need you to get up out of that bed so you can get ready for school,” Mama said as she walked into the room and pulled the cover from my skinny 12-year-old body.

Now, I’m thinking to myself (because I dare not say it out loud), I wish you would leave me the hell alone. Instead, I asked, “Oh Mama, can I just lay here for another two minutes?” I put my hands up in prayer, hoping that Mama will let me be. All the while I looked at her through slightly opened eyelids. “Sweetie Pie, I tell you what. If you are not up and out of this bed when I come back from waking your brothers, I got something for you. You hear me girl?” Mama said, her voice trailing off as she headed down the hallway. For some reason, I felt that something was going to happen today and I won’t be prepared for it.

For the last few days, I felt as though I were in a whirlpool and that once I finally stopped spinning, my life would be somehow altered. But I didn’t have a clue in what way. Last night at supper, Daddy was acting kind of strange. Since I am the youngest, I am supposed to be too naive to notice that the world is off-centered. After supper, we were all out in the yard under the big tree and I sensed that something was different in my parent’s conversation. They were kind of speaking in code. I guess they didn’t think any of us noticed. The conversation seemed strained. They kept saying things like, “What are they doing back here?” “They were to tell us if they were coming.” “This is the kind of stuff that happens when you don’t do it the right way in the beginning.”

Now you know my curiosity was peeked. We had been taught that no matter how much you want to know what grown folks are talking about, you better stay in your place and not ask. That was a good way to get your ass whipped as well as put on punishment. I just wasn’t having that no matter how much I wanted to know what was going on. We sat under that tree for another 20 minutes or so. We were really trying to drag the time out. Once we went inside, it would be time for bed. Tomorrow was a school day and we were trying to make the moment last a little while longer. I noticed that my folks had stopped talking in code and had eased into a normal conversation. As far as I was concerned, they had lost my interest in whatever they were talking about and I felt that they sensed that I was just a little too still.

Professional Reviews

Through the Eyes of One Wise Child
If The Tree Could Talk (oh, what stories it would tell)", by Karen C. Brown, is a beautiful, poignant tale about family values, morales and secrets - through the eyes of a smart and sassy 12-year-old, the unforgettable Little Miss Callie Greenson, a/k/a Sweetie Pie.

The novel takes place in Top Water, Louisiana, a small, southern town picture-perfect for raising a family -- where everyone knows everyone and gossip is plentiful. The Greenson family is at the center of the story, along with a wise old family tree in the front yard that is the centerpiece of drama, every decision, issue, and secret held by the Greenson family. A shocking secret may forever change the lives of everyone in the Greenson family - more importantly, Sweetie Pie. As Sweetie Pie finds her own way through life, many surprises ensue, lives change and lessons are learned.

What a delightful story! Sweetie Pie is wise beyond her years and through her eyes, she narrates a heartfelt story filled with love, humor and sheer honesty. The language of Sweetie Pie is a bit brash for a 12-year-old - as an educator, I sincerely wanted to wash her mouth out with soap! Once I moved beyond the language, I laughed, cried and cheered on Sweetie Pie and the Greenson family! Author Karen C. Brown is a masterful storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend her first novel!

If the Tree Could Talk is a delightful tale
If the Tree Could Talk is a delightful tale told primarily by Callie "Sweetie Pie" Greenson. The story takes place in Top Water, Louisiana, a small town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows everyone's business. The big shade tree in the Greenson's yard holds not only secrets of the Greenson family, but secrets of many of the town's residents, as well. There is one hidden truth, however, that will forever change the lives of not only the Greenson family (Sweetie Pie in particular), but the lives of several former residents of Top Water.

Ms. Brown, in her debut novel, told a charming story of lies, secrets, and the power of love. The characters and their relationships were well defined, although there were a few areas where I would have enjoyed a little more detail. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and look forward to future works from Ms. Brown.

Keep it Up!
From the first sentence I was captivated. The plot was filled with sub-plots that kept and held my interest throughout the book. It was well-planned. I knew the green eyes were very important from the beginning. No boring moments at all. My intrigue was maintained throughout and until the closing statement. The characters were so believable and their individuality was outstanding. My hat is off to you.

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