★★★ Barry Tractor, a fit and young man, responds to an ad in a Colorado newspaper for a “field worker,” but has no idea what he is really getting himself into. As a roughneck, he expects the job to be related to oil drilling, and is surprised when he finds himself accepting a job as a groundskeeper for Jack Goodstein, a wealthy man with a large and pristinely maintained orchard. Randomly, the other members of the groundskeeping team are Barry’s old friends. The more time that Barry spends working for Jack, the more he is ushered, and forced, into a world of trauma, dedication, and camaraderie. Barry begins to acknowledge a life outside of roughnecking and a life where people, even those he has never met, are deeply meaningful. Shiloh Tree offers insight into post traumatic stress disorder, the holocaust, and what it means to overcome obstacles that may seem insurmountable.
Scotty Cain’s Shiloh Tree is a well-written story of two individuals and the way that their lives intertwine and become one. While both have vastly different backgrounds, the main characters find themselves working and living together, with their life paths becoming inseparably combined. While the idea of the plot is moving and inspirational, the plot and dialogue itself lack the zest to really push the reader forward and into true believing. The story is interesting, but written in a way that lacks motivation and the kind of dialogue that makes a story feel real. While the story behind Shiloh Tree is impactful, Cain could easily grow into a second novel that is truly great.
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