Linden Tree
Ellie Mathews

Book cover image

Narrated By: Marguerite Gavin

Duration: 4 hours and 1 minute

What to expect

When eleven-year-old Katy Sue loses her mother to meningitis, she and her family must adjust to life without her. The rural farm in the 1940s provides a natural backdrop that is rhythmic and routine but unforgiving, even when a family member dies. The house’s emptiness is filled only when her Aunt Katherine comes to the family’s aid, as does Jake, a family friend.

Katy Sue, the youngest of the three children, struggles to understand what the loss of her mother means for her now. With the guidance of her teacher, she begins to imagine her future through drawing, a process that allows her to accept her father’s soon-to-be wife, the farm life without her mother, and, eventually, her own role within the family.


Children’s / Teenage fiction: General fiction, Children’s / Teenage personal and social topics: Death and bereavement, Children’s / Teenage fiction: Family and home stories, Children’s / Teenage personal and social topics: Families and family members, Children’s / Teenage fiction: General fiction, Children’s / Teenage general interest: Rural and farm life

Listen to a sample

“Marguerite Gavin captures the eleven-year-old’s poignant thoughts and memories in a melodic and thoughtful presentation…Gavin crafts her portrayal of each character, giving voice and emotion to each family member as well as to townsfolk and friends.”


“Gavin brings a casual, homey feel to the novel…This story sensitively captures the sorrow, loneliness, and small moments of joy that Katy Sue feels, with Gavin’s reading eliciting deep compassion for the young protagonist.”


“The honest account of a family’s journey of grieving and healing is well portrayed and may be cathartic for children who have suffered their own losses.”

School Library Journal

“In this beautifully written and often lyrical tale, Ellie Matthews explores the ways in which members of a close-knit family cope with their grief when one of their number suddenly dies…Full of powerful imagery and truly lovely language, this is a story that will continue to leave an impression on the minds of listeners long after the audiobook has finished playing. In Marguerite Gavin’s narrative she captures the emotions in Katy Sue’s voice to such great effect that the girl’s pain and grief is almost tangible, as are her feelings of warmth when her life starts to improve at last.”

Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review

“The heartfelt voice of Katy Sue reveals a family rooted in love and a charming look back at the pastimes, foods, manners, and morals of a half-century ago.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Winner of the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, this novel has a nostalgic yet spirited voice in the form of main character Katy Sue.”

Children's Literature

“[A] poignant, bittersweet story…[Katy] is an objective narrator, sharing with the readers what it feels like to move beyond a traumatic loss without losing the memories of love. A gentle, life-affirming tale that deserves to be shared and discussed.”