Author Melinda Field’s beautifully written story begins with the plight of Caterina Ramos, a habitually neglected teenager living with her heroine-addicted mother in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.The resilient young woman manages to stay afloat despite living in a rundown, crime-ridden neighborhood, until her mother is jailed for five years for narcotics use.
Caterina is forced to live with her ailing grandmother, Jenny Brown, on an isolated farm in Northern California. Upon arriving, she instantly feels out of place in the small rural town. She is bullied at school by a racist classmate who, with a group of young boys, sexually assaults her. The violent attack results in a pregnancy, which Caterina must decide to terminate or raise alone. When Caterina’s grandmother suddenly dies of a heart attack, Emma, owner of a ranch in Green Valley, takes her in. Emma, whose husband and child were killed in a car accident several years ago, offers the support and encouragement Caterina desperately needs.
In addition to its soul-stirring portrayal of the pain, disappointment and ultimate triumph experienced by Caterina, Ms. Field’s novel also delves into the inner lives of its secondary characters: Lilly, Clare, Midnight and Briar. With the passing of every heart wrenching chapter the story blossoms into a timeless tale about women and their quest to find meaning in a world in which their choices are often difficult.
There are many wonderful things about this book and about the style of writing flawlessly executed by its author. The most striking aspect is the poetry and rich images of the environment in which the story takes place. Field does a magnificent job of capturing natural elements that awaken the reader’s senses, from the sound of wind lingering in between the leaves and branches in the forest around Emma’s ranch, to the fragments of sunlight on the rivers beside the majestic mountains. She does what is truly essential for the reader to stay engaged: she transports whilst, simultaneously, creating a striking world of both tragedy and beauty.
“True”, a seemingly ambiguous title that doesn’t seem fitting for the book, is a must read for women of all ages. It is a profound recording of a journey.
Reviewed by Rebecca Nichloson for IndieReader