If the Moon Had Willow Trees
by Kathleen Hall

Collaborative Options, 2017. ISBN 978-0-990-39042-8.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 06/22/2017

Fiction: Mainstream

It is July, 1967 and inner Detroit is burning. A gutsy young brunette named Maggie delivers sodas to police manning the barricades, and along the way, she meets Sam. "Shaking, released from the tension of her absurd mission, Maggie wants to hold onto the moment, turning it into a poem, an ode, a prayer."

It is with this background that two graduate students at Wayne State University who are civil rights activists become the "token, but highly valued whites" in the otherwise black "The Eights." Intrigue, the Mafia and, and maybe even J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI are all part of the tangled background of this novel, along with the long-ago disappearance of Maggie's French Canadian parents.

Hall excels as writing natural conversation and witty banter between and among friends and family. Even the minor characters seem real and are well developed. Loretta, one of The Eight and a black beautician, gives a spontaneous, inspired speech to students at Wayne State on the day of Martin Luther King's assassination in April, 1968. The tale has scattered topical references to brand names, well-known people of the day, and literary allusions as well; however, not knowing the references will not detract from the reader's enjoyment of If the Moon Had Willow Trees.

The book has a dramatic ending—which is also a beginning. Hall intends to continue the story of Maggie and Sam in a forthcoming book.

Kathleen Hall, previously in human resources management, lives outside of Austin Texas with her husband and cats. Her previous book, The Otherness Factor, explores intentional relationships.

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