Thursday, April 1, 2010

The tree's not the only thing crying . . .

Once again I was lured to read/listen to a book that had an intriguing premise, only to be sorely disappointed by it. In this instance, it was The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha. The book sounded interesting enough: a teenager is murdered, and his mother begins a correspondence with the killer, who is sitting on death row. What could go wrong with a story like that? Well, lots.

{First of all, however unreasonable it may be, I get immediately turned off by a book when the characters have stupid names. Case in point, The Lovely Bones, with "my name is Susie Salmon, like the fish." Oh please! Well, this book has two characters with dumb names. They happen to be the children in the story, the murder victim Stephen (who is inexplicably called Shep) and his sister Barbara (called Bliss for no apparent reason). Again, if the characters are going to be called Shep and Bliss -- WHY GIVE THEM ALTERNATE NAMES?? And why such STUPID names? So I was irritated from the start.}

The Stanley family lives in Illinois, in the family home, surrounded by friends, family and fellow church goers. The father in the family, who works as a police officer, suddenly one day comes home and announces that he's going to move the entire family to Oregon. Without much protest, the wife, Irene, packs up the kids and off they go. They are less than impressed with their new home, but eventually settle in.

About a year and a half after the move, Shep is murdered in an apparent robbery gone bad. After his funeral, his devastated family eventually moves back to Illinois. Irene is unable to cope and lives basically a zombie-like existence for the next 10 years. She decides to forgive the killer and writes him a letter telling him so. She is stunned when the killer writes back. She begins to correspond with him, but doesn't tell her family. Eventually, she learns that his execution date has been set. Irene determines to see him before his death, sparking a confrontation with her husband that results in long suppressed revelations.

SPOILER ALERT
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Why on earth did everyone keep babbling on about how the father "loved" Shep and "was only trying to protect him" when the father nearly beat his son to death? The book lost what little appeal it had with that inexplicable situation. Completely ridiculous.
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All in all, a book that waaayyy didn't live up to its promise!

Final Verdict for The Crying Tree: 1 Gherkin, for being an interesting idea that went horribly wrong



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