Maranthana never knew her parents, so most of her early childhood memories come from staying with her Aunt Elma in Burl, Texas. There were memories of her best friend Camilla and all her rhyming, there were memories of her aunt and the police officer her always hung around their house. But most outstanding memories were the worst memories-the memories of the pastor's son who called himself General who took her under the tree limbs and violated her as a nine-year old. If she told, he said he would kill her or her family members. She believed him one day when she came home to see her aunt dead in the house. But even as she was taken on the other side of town to where she thought her parents lived, General still found her. Mara only found solace in Denim, a radio personality, and in making it through General's violation by watching the tree limbs.
As usual with Mary E Demuth, Watching the Tree Limbs is based on a pathetic characters in a pathetic situation. However, since this is her debut novel, she did not handle the drama in an original way as she did with her later books. While this book has its good points, it is written very much like a debut novel in that the end is predictable.
The best part about Watching the Tree Limbs is the character development. Most of the characters are imperfect and have underused personalities. However, some of the characters have goofy quirks, and while this is not entirely bad, it comes off a little unprofessional at first. One of Mary's strongest points is creating broken people without being too dramatic, and she mostly demonstrates this talent well in this debut novel.
The biggest flaw to this book is Denim, who is a basically perfect hero. While his role as a radio personality is an interesting plot point, he should have never left the studio. Once he did, he started meddling into what was turning into an original end. His existence in Mara's life crafts the typical end that so many debut authors resort to. Without Denim leaving the studio, Watching the Tree Limbs is a basically good book that presents a looming issue in a very correct way. Mary did a good job at showing the types of things that could be going on anywhere in our country. It makes one aware that there are people out there that are living in tougher situations than we are.
All in all, Mary E Demuth has a lot of potential for the future.