By Audrey Andrews | December 14th, 2020
Memory of Trees: A Daughter’s Story of a Family Farm by Gayla Marty fell into my hands. I drove to a Target to purchase a few household items. When I arrived, I noticed a green sign announcing “BOOKS” next to the entrance. Of course, I had no choice but to wander inside. Wearing my mask decorated with cookies, I perused the isles and picked two used books: one I’d been meaning to read and Memory of Trees, which simply looked like a book I’d enjoy. I didn’t notice until opening the book a few days later that I’d purchased a signed copy. This book and I seemed meant to be.
The story opens with a tragic accident of Marty’s uncle on the family farm. After this introduction, readers journey through Marty’s childhood. Memory of Trees is structured so that each chapter is followed by a short description of a tree and accompanying memories of Marty’s. She is honest about the struggles her family faced while working to run a businesses together and the increasingly difficult livelihood of small farms throughout the United States.
While the plot is interesting enough, what made me fall in love with this story is Marty’s graceful and delicate prose. Marty’s sentences are crafted in a manner to which I aspire. Her words float in beauty above the pages of Memory of Trees. In this way, Marty successfully shares the appreciation she felt towards her beloved family farm.
I was unsurprised to learn Marty is trained as a writer; she holds both an undergraduate journalism degree and an M.F.A. I understand she’s authored other published pieces, but no other books. If she does come out with another book, memoir or otherwise, I will not wait ten years post-publication to pick it up.