Summary: Living in Putnam, Ontario, sixteen year-old Martha is caught between a potentially premature marriage and wanting to pursue her dreams of being an artist. For the summer, Martha is harvesting a cucumber crop with her friend Bernie, but when a woman named Velvet rolls into town painting unique signs for her customers, Martha is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Under Velvet’s influence, Martha finds her voice, revealing hidden truths around town that have previously gone unsaid through her own signs. Velvet invites an art critic to town to view Martha’s work and Martha sees a way out of life as she knows it, but when things don’t go as planned it is up to her to sort her life out herself, without excuses.
Number of Pages: 173
Age Range: 14-16
Review: There are a lot of things going on in Martha’s life. Her boyfriend, John, has his and her future all planned out as he buys the farm he has always dreamed of, her father has his head in the clouds with his positive thinking and ambitions, and her sister finds superiority and distance from family matters in religion. But Martha seems to have more in common with her mother, hiding her feelings and going along with the status quo for as long as possible.
Except Martha has dreams of her own, and when the opportunity comes to pursue them she takes advantage of it after some initial reluctance. Through her art she finds a way to let out everything that has been building up inside her, and while it makes her quite unpopular at first, but ends up acting as a catalyst to free Martha up to tell the truth in all areas of her life. Her journey toward living authentically inspires others in her family to do so as well.
With quirky, loveable characters and a believable small town setting, author Sarah Raymond explores the theme of being yourself by having the courage to be honest.
“Dreams really are like cucumber blossoms. Highly delicate and embarrassingly loud in colour.” – Martha from Signs of Martha by Sarah Raymond, page 46
“‘The power to succeed comes from within, Martha.’
A few years back, he thought the power came from God, but times change.” – from Signs of Martha by Sarah Raymond, page 57