The main character in And the Oaks Heard Them All is Brenda. Twelve-years-old in 1975, she is a typical pre-teen, struggling with the transformation from childhood to adulthood. Her struggles are intensified by peers who bully her. During the summer, a couple of teenagers befriend Brenda and teach her to play tennis.
The story flashes ahead to 2006, and Brenda has evolved into a competent and caring mother of a Special Olympian. Brenda teaches her daughter, Joy, to play tennis. Joy’s competency increases, and Brenda transitions Joy to her former high school coach and English teacher, Tom Carrabas. As the book volleys back and forth between the summers of 1975 and 2006, it tells the story of Brenda’s youth and adulthood contemporaneously.
But, And the Oaks Heard Them All is more than a story and Tom Carrabas more than a coach and English teacher. He is the conduit for philosophical discussions throughout the novel that uses tennis as a metaphor for life.