In her first book, “A Shrub Not a Tree, The FAMILY We’ve Grown to Be,” author Ashley Rae Klinger celebrates the various ways families grow. The book is divided into sections — the first is written with younger readers in mind, while the second section is formatted for adult readers. The delineation is clear both in the language and artwork, making for an interesting read.
Introducing the concept of a “family shrub” in place of the more commonly used term “family tree,” Klinger traces her family’s journey as they negotiate the twists and turns of fate. She writes of her dreams of having babies, the despair of infertility, and how foster care and adoption paved the way for a joyous, happy family. Her message is one of compassion and inspiration designed to help nontraditional families embrace and honor their uniqueness.
“A Shrub Not a Tree” began as a legacy project for Klinger and her husband, Andrew, to help explain their distinct family makeup to their four young, adopted children. Klinger developed the “family shrub” concept to provide families not connected by DNA with the same sense of belonging to a “family tree,” through love and connection, identity, belonging, understanding and purpose. Making the simple comparison between a shrub with many stems which represents more than one family connected by love, and a tree, which has a single trunk and represents one family connected by DNA and love, Klinger illustrates how families are groomed, pruned and shaped in many ways.
“For families like ours, the concept of a family tree can be difficult to embrace. In the book, I discuss the ‘family shrub’ concept as not one intended to chop down the family tree.’ Rather, I’m trying to provide all families — no matter how they grew to be — a way to embrace the growth and intentional blessing of their family and the families growing around them,” says Klinger. “The concept of a ‘Family Shrub’ helps recognize our inability to add a ‘leaf’ to a tree in the traditional way doesn’t define us as a family. It’s our ability to work together as a team to achieve God’s purpose for planting our family that is most important. I believe that ultimately, we achieve that purpose as a family through love and service.”
As the book’s narrative evolves, Klinger similarly introduces two philosophies she utilizes in her life coaching business: growing together as a family and reaching your full blooming potential as a family. The first part of the book offers concepts and messages to aid parents in initiating age-appropriate conversations with their children about their family story. The second section offers foster and adoptive families additional insight and a deeper understanding of the “family shrub.” “My husband and I hope to inspire and encourage other hopeful parents like us to consider foster care and adoption in order to grow their own ‘family shrub,’” says Klinger.
A Shrub Not a Tree, The FAMILY We’ve Grown to Be; www.amazon.com and www.ashrubnotatree.com for $16.99 (paperback), $24.99 (hardcover), $8.99 (eBook); free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers