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Nate and Irene Stanley had everything they could want in their small-town Illinois life: two beautiful children, a rambling house, family and friends, their church. But one day Nate comes home and announces his plans for them to leave, so he can take a more promising job in Oregon. Against Irene's better judgment, they leave everything they know. Shortly after arriving in Oregon, the unthinkable happens -- their 15-year-old son is shot and killed.
Grief-stricken, the family limps back to Illinois, where they wait for justice to be served. Each of the remaining family members is in pain, but they're unable to connect with or support one another. After years of waiting, with hate eating her up and destroying what's left of her life, Irene writes to her son's killer -- and he responds. They begin a secret correspondence that continues until the fateful day when his execution is scheduled, an event that brings great relief for Nate and their daughter, but for Irene holds only regret.
The plans for the execution set in motion an unlikely meeting between an isolated prison superintendent, charged with carrying out the sentence, and the Stanley family. A novel with themes of forgiveness, healing, and family renewal, The Crying Tree is ultimately a story of newfound life after unimaginable loss. (Fall 2009 Selection)