“There are certain things you should never have to see in life. A crying tree standing beside your son’s grave was one.
That was one.”
The Crying Tree is the tragic story of 15 year-old ‘Shep’, murdered in his family home in Oregon, and the events following his death. Nineteen years on, the superintendent of the state Penitentiary is preparing to execute Shep’s murderer. However, as his mother tries to come to terms with her grief, she finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of secrets, and begins to wonder how well she really knew Shep, her husband, or herself.
Initially I was put off by the front cover of this book; very reminiscent of a Jodi Picoult novel. Fortunately it goes a lot deeper than that. This is a compelling plot, especially considering the entire story takes place over the period of just one month.
It is a story about forgiveness, and the fallibility of the human condition. It wasn’t quite what I expected, and there was a twist about two-thirds of the way through which surprisingly caught me off guard (unusual for me). I liked the way Naseem dealt so carefully with the emotions of Irene; they felt alarmingly realistic and I found myself compelled to keep reading.
I’m not familiar with the community of either Illinois or Oregon, but I was quite surprised by the opinions raised later in the story, especially for something set as late as 2004. I can only assume that living in such a culturally sensitive environment as London, I am just unused to these sorts of reactions – perhaps that was or is the norm for that generation in that particular part of America, and I applaud Naseem for attempting to tackle such a controversial subject. Not only is her writing beautiful, but I was pleased to note that the plot lines surrounding the US legal system and capital punishment went into so much detail, shedding light on the flaws and inconsistencies in that form of justice.
I highly recommend reading The Crying Tree; an eye-opening and brilliantly realistic story.
Original Book Girl