Judy Duarte’s Mulberry Park is an entertaining blend of life and faith. When seven year-old orphan Analisa Dawson leaves a letter for God in the branches of a tree in Mulberry Park, fate drops it into the lap of Claire Harper, who for the past three years has been fighting the overwhelming grief over the death of her own child. Claire decides to respond to the child’s note, thus setting in motion dramatic events that touch and change the lives of other park dwellers.
Besides Claire, whose husband divorced her, and Little Analisa, who lives with her bachelor uncle, Sam Dawson, we meet Hilda Richards, Analisa’s nanny. Hilda has come out of retirement to care for the child due to financial restraints. Resident chess player Walter Klinefelter is a lonely old man with nothing better to do. Maria Rodriguez is the pregnant single mother of two children trying to make ends meet. Then there’s Trevor, who spends his days unsupervised and on his own. Eventually we come to meet Katie, Trevor’s guardian, and Russell Meredith, the man who killed Claire’s boy.
As these people unwittingly converge, the healing begins for all of them. What was once the drudgery of another day becomes the anticipation of what good may come. This narrative is truly the feel-good story of the year and an awakening of spirituality. Judy Duarte of Silhouette Books fame really hits it out of the park with this one. Each story line connects and comes full circle before drawing together neatly at the end. For those who have faith, this strengthens it. For those who question faith, this renews it. And for those without, this may give you a new outlook. Either way, this book proves the notion that it really is a small world after all.