Young Lydia's life is turned upside down when she unexpectedly loses both her parents and her baby sister to the Spanish influenza outbreak in 1918. Going from a loving household to her uncle's overcrowded farm seems bad enough, but when it becomes apparent that her aunt does not welcome either Lydia or her brother Daniel, they are sent to live at the local Shaker settlement. Along with her sadness over losing her home, there's the trepidation of not knowing anyone and the feeling of if she will like her new home. All of these emotions play out in the journal Lydia keeps where she records her daily activities.
Like a Willow Tree is a very well written look at the losses a young girl faced after the devastation of the Spanish influenza epidemic and also a worthwhile glimpse into the daily life of the Shaker religion. Prior to reading this novel, I knew very little about the actual religious practices of Shakers; this novel shares those by using real life leaders of the movement, interweaving them into the life of Lydia. While at times the style of writing is very old-fashioned and stiff, it is still indicative of the time Lydia would've been alive as a young girl trying to find her way. This is an enjoyable snapshot of a time in history which very few people know much about. Recommended.