The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha

Shep Stanley is murdered when he is just fifteen years old, leaving his mother, Irene, bereft of the will to live. Disjointed and unable to connect with the world around her, she becomes a stranger to her family and friends, moving through life but never really feeling anything.

Filled with an all-consuming hate for her sons killer, Daniel Robbin, her days are consumed with dreams of retribution. Weeks, months, years spent fantasising about justice and the day he will be sentenced to death.

But after years of bitter loathing Irene begins to realise that she cannot go on living on the sustenance of hate. It’s forgive or die and so she digs deep into her heart and somehow finds the strength to forgive the boy who stole her son’s life.

Irene writes to Daniel informing him of her forgiveness, Irene has no idea that they will embark on a ten-year relationship, never meeting, but writing back and forth to one another for years.

When ten years later his warrant for execution is finally passed, Irene is once again lost. How can she stand to lose someone else?

The novel reaches a fever pitch as the date for Daniel’s death looms closer and Irene’s family learn the truth about her desperation to save Daniel. I found myself tearing through the pages desperate to see if he would be saved, all the while unsure if I really thought he should be.

I love books that challenge my ideas and force me to re-evaluate my opinions. The Crying Tree is the master of this and below my fascination to find out Daniels fate, lay deeper and more complex musings.

I’d always had rather abstract feelings about the death penalty, it’s not a concept that I relish, but in some extreme cases I will confess to assuming it could be apt.

But the wonderful thing about Rahka’s writing is the way she really forces her readers to rethink everything they’ve ever thought about an issue. As I read on, a light was lit on my own ignorance, here I was condoning people and making claims about my own capacity for forgiveness, when really I had never given enough thought to the idea of corporal punishment or what true forgiveness is.

Rakha gives humanity and life to Daniel Robbin, revelling a man with a past, feelings and the capacity for love and sorrow. Whilst the rest of the rest world continue to perceive him as a cold-blooded murder, Irene begins to see him as a young man who made a huge mistake.

Nothing is simple or as it seems in this moving and beautiful story. Rakha writes with a gentle, melancholy tone, never rushing her story or bogging it down with overly dramatised events. Instead she allows a very human and in turn real story to blossom. There is something harrowing in the journey Irene must take and I felt humbled by her actions.

I wish there were more books like this, one’s that hold my attention and compel me to read on, all the while changing the way I see the world.

Has anyone else read The Crying Tree, if so did you enjoy it? Did it force you to rethink your idea’s? Or did the novel fail to stir your emotions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Still here…honest

I can’t quite believe that Autumn is here already, where has the time gone? I feel like recently I’ve being full of good intentions and yet all I’m delivering is apologies. Despite having many wonderful books that I want to tell you all about, time quite literally seems to be alluding me. Every time I sit down to share my thoughts I instead find myself astonished by how much time has elapsed since my last post.

So as the dark nights start to draw in and winter begins to envelop me I’ve made it my concerted effort to sit down with my laptop a lot more and keep you all updated on what I’ve being reading. Off course I know how busy these next few months will be so I can’t make any promises, nor can I set myself unrealistic goals.

What I will do though is start to catch up on some long overdue reviews that I want to share with you. After all I’m still yet to tell you all about the tragic love story buried in Evan Mandery’s Q, or the shocking story of  Warm Bodies, not to mention the other books I read last month, like The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha, or The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. Or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. All books that fascinated me for different reasons and thankfully all books I’d love to recommend to my readers.

It’s probably helpful really then that I’m experiencing a reading lull, that should surely  free up some much-needed time to write. Usually I hate reading lulls, I always panic, how long will I have these luke warm, apathetic feelings to a pastime I usually can’t live without? But after a two-week holiday of quite literally doing nothing but reading, I actually feel I need a break just so I can remember how much I love reading.

So it’s time to put my books aside this month and catch up with my readers. But whilst I’m having a break from books, what have you all being up to? Have you been having a reading lull? Or is there a book, or several books that you’ve being fully immersed in? I’d love to hear about what you’ve being up to and which books have being keeping your attention.