One mistake can ruin a life. One mistake can transform it. A government forestry camp set deep in the mountainous forests of the Pacific Northwest might not seem the likely place to find redemption, but in 1935, Park Hardesty hopes for just that. Blaming himself for the fiery accident that caused his brother's disfigurement and the death of the bootlegging woman he loved, planting trees, building bridges and mentoring tough, homesick New Jersey boys brings him both penitence and the renewal of his own self-worth. When he wins the love of Kate Alford, a local naturalist who envisions joining the Forest Service, which allows only men, he also captures the ire of a camp officer who refuses to let her go. Just when he is ready to seek his brother's forgiveness, he is falsely accused of rape. Every aspect of his life he has tried to rebuild is put in jeopardy. In the end, the only way he can defend himself is to tell the truth about his brother, but he risks being kicked out of the camp. Worse, he could lose Kate's love forever
Janet gives an overview of the book:
Janet Oakley grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, listening to her mother's stories of life in early 20th century Idaho. Several of them were about the boys from "New Joisey" occupying a side camp up the creek from her uncle's ranch. Desperate boys from back East, they were members of the Civilian Conservation Corps doing reclamation projects in the rugged area of the Salmon River.
I enjoyed interviewing quite a number of boys who served in the CCC and love the stories people tell me of their fathers, grandfather or husbands when they come to hear me read.
Tree Soldier is set in such a camp in 1930s in the North Cascades.
Janet Oakley is an award winning writer. She has been published in various magazines, anthologies, and other media including the Cup of Comfort series and Historylink.org, a “cyperpedia of Washington State history.” Her historical novel, Tree...
This vigorously researched historical novel set during the Great Depression tracks the life of the leader of a Civilian Conservation Corps group working in the forests of Washington State. John “Park”...