Owl in the Oak Tree
by Penny Walker Veraar
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Pub Date 23 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 22 Feb 2023
She’s the key witness to a drive-by shooting. But what happens when her duty to justice threatens the most important thing in her world—her family?
Reagan Ramsey—mother and middle school teacher extraordinaire—knows how to hold it together in the face of adversity. In the aftermath of her husband’s death from cancer, Reagan is doing everything she can to help her two children process their father’s passing while trying to sort out what a new normal looks like for their family. The loss proves especially difficult for her seven-year-old daughter, Lizzie, who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism and is nonverbal. Lizzie’s father had been her protector, a hands-on parent since the day she was born, and in his absence, her behavior becomes increasingly challenging as she struggles to express her feelings of loss and confusion.
But when a random encounter puts Reagan in the cross fire of a drive-by shooting—an event that shakes the foundation of her community—she suddenly becomes an involuntary key witness to a murder that turns her world, and her sense of safety, upside down. Trapped between protecting her family and helping to bring the killer to justice, Reagan’s sense of right and wrong is tested like never before.
As fear and shame threaten to break Reagan, she must learn to rely on her own conscience and her community for the strength to put her life on the line for those she loves. A piercing examination of how grief and gun violence reshape families and communities, Owl in the Oak Tree is at once a taut thriller and a story of love and redemption.
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"Penny Walker Veraar's novel aims to shed light on how specific societal ills (namely, drugs and violence) impact families. Throughout her tale, readers see how these problems bleed into families until many members of a community are connected through trauma. The author deftly shows how such issues are compounded by the stressors of everyday life . . . engrossing and accessible. An engaging and timely family tale."—Kirkus Reviews
"Readers who look for development and action that begin with the microcosm of ordinary life and then move into extraordinary circumstances that challenge that world will find much to appreciate about the tension development in Owl in the Oak Tree . . . [and] much more going on than the designation of 'thriller' indicates."—Midwest Book Review
“A powerful, contemporary, and relatable story . . . Readers who relish following a woman’s journey [of] overcoming multiple obstacles and arriving at a more fulfilled self will appreciate this well-written work long after finishing the last page.” —Merida Johns, author of Blackhorse Road and Flower Girl
“Owl in the Oak Tree, the debut novel by Penny Walker Veraar, is a well-written, fast-paced tale for lovers of women’s fiction. Themes of love, loss, and commitment take center stage in this riveting story that explores marriage, death, drug abuse, and the challenges of raising a special needs child. The author’s three-dimensional characters are vivid and relatable. Her genuine love of the Cincinnati area shines through. This book is a two thumbs-up for readers who like a side of mystery and intrigue baked into heartfelt stories of home, family, and community. Well done! Looking forward to reading more of your work.” —H. R. Boldwood, author of the Corpse Whisperer series
“In her beautifully written novel, Owl in the Oak Tree, Penny Walker Veraar weaves a tale of struggle, heartbreak, mystery, and ultimate triumph that will pull at your heartstrings and remain in your memory long after you’ve turned the last page. Lizzie, an adorable special needs child; her brother, Matthew; and [their] mother, Reagan, are struggling to adjust to life after the death of their beloved father and husband. Their story, told with poignancy and realism, is set against a backdrop of drugs, murder, and a community fighting to survive in today’s world. Owl in the Oak Tree is a treasure not to be missed.” —Lou Fletcher, author of the Murder Is My Game series
Targeted outreach to women’s fiction and thriller book reviewers and media
Digital galley distribution through NetGalley
Goodreads/Listopia placement and giveaway listed around publication
Enhanced content on Amazon product page
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 16 members
this was a really well done mystery book, it did what I was hoping for and I was hooked from the first page to the last. It was done so well and worked as a crime story. I enjoyed the way the characters were written, they felt like real people and there was a tension in the book. I enjoyed the way Penny Walker Veraar wrote this and would read another book from her.
"Reagan shook her head. She doesn’t understand that. When she’s scared—a lot of grown men are scared of the dentist—she can’t express it any other way. She’s done her best to make amends."
Great story by Penny Walker Veraar. Lots of different emotions played out for me while reading this title. Just a good story that made you wonder what happens next.
Penny Walker Veraar's character Reagan Ramsey is a mother, widow, school teacher and friend. She has many roles. Probably some of them are not named here. Lizzie and Matthew are her children. Matthew helps his mom with Lizzie.
Most all of us carry heavy burdens at some point in life. Lizzie's struggle is with Down Syndrome. She is a bundle of energy and curiosity. One day she leaves the porch. Missing for a few hours, town friends and Jake, her Uncle Jake, spread out to find her. It is a known fact no one can continue to live happily without Lizzie, least of all Reagan.
The town on the outskirts of Cincinnati is charming until a shooter makes a call. A shoe store is robbed. Then, a one time student of Ms. Ramsey's comes along making threats against her and her family. These are ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. It is Christmas time. Cincinnati has become a city with nervous energy. Suddenly a charming location on the outskirts is possessed with a mental disorder. Who will stop the madness?
I received an electronic ARC from Girl Friday Productions through NetGalley.
I requested this title as soon as I saw the cover, and the interesting title - both of which drew me in right away. Then, I quickly felt a connection with each character. I loved the ending, and truly hope that readers get to follow up with Reagan, Jake, Matthew, Lizzie, and the others.
One thing I did notice was that the information provided by MetGalley at the end said that advance copies would be given to book groups that focus on thrillers. Personally, I wouldn’t call this book a thriller - it was more of women’s fiction title with thriller aspects. At it’s core, this story is about family, and community,
This debut novel by Penny Walker Veraar is riveting and captivating. It’s a story about family dynamics after loss, navigating life as a young widow with a severely disabled child and trying to do the right thing as the only witness to a crime.
Reagan Ramsay has an abundantly full life and manages to traverse through all of her trials and tribulations with grace and patience. As she is grieving the loss of her husband, she is also raising two young children, one of whom has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and autism, working as a teacher, and wanting to be a good citizen by helping law enforcement catch a criminal, but also needing to protect her children. The writer perfectly weaves all of the intricacies of the many storylines without losing the reader to tiny details. You will cheer Reagan on, cry with her, laugh with her and your heart will get broken over and over. It’s a beautiful, well-written and complex story about family love. The book hangover from this one will last awhile.
I give this book 5 stars and look forward to another book by this author.
Owl in the Oak Tree
by Penny Walker Veraar
Beautiful Cover and I so enjoyed the book. A wise old owl, a thriller, and families all with issues. Reagan Ramsey is a young widow and has children with special needs. When a drive-by shooter threatens what she knows she must do as a strong woman. It is a very touching, sad show of doing the right things.
I loved the cover of this book and looked forward to reading it - the author didn't disappoint. While I wouldn't consider this a true suspense/thriller novel there were a few twists and turns to keep it interesting. It did seem that, sometimes true to life, there were quite a few instances of disbelief and turns that brought an entire range of emotions. A good story and I appreciate the opportunity to get an advance copy and provide an unbiased review.
A well written book with complex characters. For those people who are looking for a simple story with an uncomplicated plot, this is a perfect find. I appreciate the fact that the author managed to include the character of Lizzie and also portrayed beautifully the nuances of handling a special child and the effects it have on the other members of the family.
Not only the book dealt with lives of people with special children in it, but it also focussed on drug addictions and the consequences.
All the characters are beautifully written and though I enjoyed the read, I found the pace slow in a few places.
Owl in the Oak Tree by Penny Walker Veraar is a poignant and thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of grief, family dynamics, and the impact of gun violence on communities. The main character of the novel is Reagan Ramsey, a mother and middle school teacher who is having a hard time dealing with the death of her husband and the difficulties of raising her two children, one of whom has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.
Reagan is a strong and resolute woman who is prepared to do whatever it takes to defend her family, and the characters in the book are all well-developed. The book is well-written. The plot is simple, yet engaging, and the author does a great job of building tension and keeping the reader guessing about the outcome of the story.
The book's slow pacing, which is understandable given its subject matter, allows the author to fully explore the characters' emotional complexity. However, there are definitely tedious parts in the book where it seems like not much is occurring.
The novel Owl in the Oak Tree explores the consequences of grief and gun violence on families and communities. It is well-written and thought-provoking overall. It is a story of love, atonement, and the capacity of the human spirit to win over even the most difficult obstacles.
Thank you so much Penny Walker Veraar and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for my honest review.
This debut novel by Penny Walker Veraar was a fantastic read.
Reagan is newly widowed with 2 children to raise, one of these having Down syndrome and autism.
This book follows the families journey as they find their feet without their father/husband.
Reagan is spectator to a drive-by shooting and must make the hard decision to identify the shooter and put herself/her family at risk, or choose not to and watch as her safe community crumbles.
This book was gripping and heart-felt. It was easy to fall in-love with each character and so easy to stand in Reagan's shoes and to understand how big of a decision it was to make.
It kept you hooked the whole way through and left satisfied with the end result.
Thanks NetGalley for the ARC of Owl In the Oak Tree by Penny Walker Veraar
I enjoyed this novel, it was an easy read, story line easy to follow, characters well developed and introduced during well spaced intervals.
Written from a few characters perspectives, Reagan is the main character and the story revolves around her and her family, she is recently widowed and is finding she needs help with kids, nine year old son who is needing a father figure and younger daughter with special needs.
So many aspects of this story hit home whether it's loss of a family member, drug dependent, adolescence, adulthood, morals...
Hoping to see this author write more novels, it was well done
Reagan, a mother and teacher is dealing with her new normal, raising two children, Matthew and Lizzie, after her husband's death. Lizzie is a non verbal special needs child with Down's syndrome and autism who needs to be closely monitored.
When Reagan becomes a witness to a drive by shooting, it becomes apparent that her safety and the safety of her children are at risk as she may be able to identify the shooter.
Will her family be safer if she keeps quiet or will she always be looking over her shoulder?
Side story about drugs that tie in with the shooter.
If you like stories with a simple plot and good character development, chances are you will like this book.
Reagan, a teacher in Norwood near Cincinnati, is struggling to cope with life after her husband passes away. She has two kids – Matthew and Lizzie, and Lizzie is a special needs child with Down’s Syndrome and Autism. There is a shooting on the street and Reagan is a witness. After this, Reagan lives constantly under stress and fear for her family, as there are some occurrences which seem like threats. There is another track in the story pertaining to drug dealing and abuse. As expected, the two threads converge at the end.
The character development is very good and you feel for what Reagan goes through. The story is uncomplicated and while the exact particulars of the crime get revealed at the end, it is quite easy to sense the direction the story will take. The pace is quite slow though, and some sections distinctly lack energy and it feels like very little movement.
I liked the story for its simplicity and honesty though.
My rating: 3.5 / 5.
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