Crying Tree [NOOK Book]

Overview

Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during ...
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Crying Tree

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Overview

Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death.

Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death will not stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.

Years later, Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long—Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret to hide. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come to terms with the past.

Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.
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  • The Crying Tree
    The Crying Tree  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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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)
Publishers Weekly

This complex, layered story of a family's journey toward justice and forgiveness comes together through spellbinding storytelling. Deputy sheriff Nate Stanley calls home one day and announces he's accepted a deputy post in Oregon. His wife, Irene, resents having to uproot herself and their children, Shep and Bliss, from their small Illinois town, but Nate insists it's for the best. Once they've moved into their new home, Shep sets off to explore Oregon's outdoors, and things seem to be settling in nicely until one afternoon when Nate returns home to find his 15-year-old son beaten and shot in their kitchen. After Shep dies in Nate's arms, the family seeks vengeance against the young man, Daniel Joseph Robbin, accused of Shep's murder. In the 19 years between Shep's death and Daniel's legal execution, Bliss becomes all but a caretaker for her damaged parents, and a crisis pushes Irene toward the truth about what happened to Shep. Most of the big secret is fairly apparent early on, so it's a testament to Rakha's ability to create wonderfully realized characters that the narrative retains its tension to the end. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

A more common name for the "crying tree" is the willow, and one grows near Steven (Shep) Stanley's grave in Blaine, OR. This 15-year-old was killed in his home, and his best friend, Daniel, has been found guilty of the crime and waits a lethal injection on death row. Gifted musician Shep was definitely the center of the world for his mother, Irene, and the intensity of her grief is exquisitely portrayed in this moving, unsentimental tale of loss. After years of severe depression, withdrawal from her family, and alcoholism, Irene comes to realize that if she does not forgive her son's killer she will be destroyed. She secretly writes to Daniel in prison, and they begin corresponding. Then Irene receives written notice of the execution date and knows she must act. VERDICT Gifted storyteller Rakha has crafted a beautiful and passionate novel that never becomes maudlin or unbelievable. All of the characters are genuinely human, and the author even manages to save a few surprising plot details to the end. Highly recommended, especially for readers interested in the subject of loss and coping.—Lisa Rohrbaugh, New Middletown, OH


—Lisa Rohrbaugh
From the Publisher
"Beautifully written, expertly crafted, forcefully rendered. Naseem Rakha lays bare all the ambiguities and nuances of our culture in a story that is compelling and deep. The Crying Tree is a story of forgiveness and redemption, but at its core it is a love story as well, and that is the most powerful story of all."
--Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
 
In The Crying Tree Naseem Rakha uses grace and honesty to tell the gripping story of parents losing a son to murder and their desperate hope that an execution will provide closure, while allowing readers to consider the idea of forgiveness as a means of healing.
--Randy Susan Meyers, author The Murderer's Daughters
 
Naseem Rakha writes with both clarity and sympathy about one of the most mysterious and evasive of human impulses: forgiveness. The Crying Tree is a memorable and deeply humane novel.
--Jon Clinch, author Finn and Kings of Earth

This complex, layered story of a family's journey toward justice and forgiveness comes together through spellbinding storytelling. Deputy sheriff Nate Stanley calls home one day and announces he's accepted a deputy post in Oregon. His wife, Irene, resents having to uproot herself and their children, Shep and Bliss, from their small Illinois town, but Nate insists it's for the best. Once they've moved into their new home, Shep sets off to explore Oregon's outdoors, and things seem to be settling in nicely until one afternoon when Nate returns home to find his 15-year-old son beaten and shot in their kitchen. After Shep dies in Nate's arms, the family seeks vengeance against the young man, Daniel Joseph Robbin, accused of Shep's murder. In the 19 years between Shep's death and Daniel's legal execution, Bliss becomes all but a caretaker for her damaged parents, and a crisis pushes Irene toward the truth about what happened to Shep. Most of the big secret is fairly apparent early on, so it's a testament to Rakha's ability to create wonderfully realized characters that the narrative retains its tension to the end.--Publishers Weekly

A more common name for the "crying tree" is the willow, and one grows near Steven (Shep) Stanley's grave in Blaine, OR. This 15-year-old was killed in his home, and his best friend, Daniel, has been found guilty of the crime and waits a lethal injection on death row. Gifted musician Shep was definitely the center of the world for his mother, Irene, and the intensity of her grief is exquisitely portrayed in this moving, unsentimental tale of loss. After years of severe depression, withdrawal from her family, and alcoholism, Irene comes to realize that if she does not forgive her son's killer she will be destroyed. She secretly writes to Daniel in prison, and they begin corresponding. Then Irene receives written notice of the execution date and knows she must act. VERDICT Gifted storyteller Rakha has crafted a beautiful and passionate novel that never becomes maudlin or unbelievable. All of the characters are genuinely human, and the author even manages to save a few surprising plot details to the end. Highly recommended, especially for readers interested in the subject of loss and coping.- Library Journal

"Rakha writes of one of her central subjects, 'and it wasn't anything she knew how to handle.' Not so for the author, who has crafted not only a compelling read, but one whose message lingers: At what point does that to which we cling for our survival become the very thing that robs us of our life?"The Oregonian 

"The Crying Tree is a powerful novel full of moral questions as well as surprises. Like real life, there are no easy roads for these characters, but they make their way, one step at a time."Las Vegas Review-Journal

"The Crying Tree is hauntingly beautiful and sad as Rakha examines themes of hate, forgiveness, redemption, acceptance and love. Here, Rakha brings hard questions for which there are no black-and-white answers to the fore. Readers are forced to question their own beliefs as Rakha's characters delve into their own."Deseret News

"Absorbing and deeply melancholy….Delving into the controversial subjects of capital punishment, forbidden relationships and forgiveness for horrific acts, [Rakha's] debut novel seems designed to inspire heated debate in book clubs."
BookPage

"This is a gripping, well-paced tale, compassionate without being mawkish." -The Guardian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767932202
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 317,568
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

NASEEM RAKHA is an award-winning broadcast journalist whose stories have been heard on NPR. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
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Read an Excerpt

The Crying Tree
Naseem Rakha

C H A P T E R 1
October 1, 2004

THE DEATH WARRANT ARRIVED THAT morning, packaged in a large white envelope marked confidential and addressed to Tab Mason, Superintendent, Oregon State Penitentiary. Mason had been warned the order might be coming. A couple of weeks earlier, the Crook County DA had let the word slip that after nineteen years on death row, condemned murderer Daniel Joseph Robbin had stopped his appeals.
Mason dropped the envelope on his desk, along with a file about as thick as his fist, then ran his hand over the top of his cleanly shaved skull. He’d been in corrections for twenty years–Illinois, Louisiana, Florida–and on execution detail a half- dozen occasions, but he’d never been in charge of the actual procedure. Those other times he’d simply walked the guy into the room, strapped him down, opened the blinds on the witness booth, then stood back and waited. He’d worked with one guy in Florida who’d done the job fifty times. “It becomes routine,” the officer told Mason, who was busy puking into a trash can after witnessing his fi rst execution.
Now Mason slid into his chair, flicked on his desk lamp, and opened Robbin’s file. There was the man’s picture. A front and side shot. He had been nineteen years old when he was booked, had long scraggly hair and eyes squinted to a hostile slit. Mason turned the page and began to read. On the afternoon of May 6, 1985, Daniel Joseph
Robbin beat, then shot fifteen-year-old Steven Joseph Stanley (aka “Shep”) while in the process of robbing the boy’s home at 111 Indian Ridge Lane. The victim was found still alive by his father, Deputy Sheriff Nathaniel Patrick Stanley, but died before medical assistance could arrive. The remaining family members–wife and mother, Irene Lucinda Stanley, and twelve-year-old Barbara Lee (aka Bliss)–were not present during the incident. The Stanleys, who were originally from Illinois, had been living in Oregon for a year and a half when the incident occurred.
The superintendent leafed through more pages–court documents, letters, photos–then leaned back in his chair and looked out his window. A squat rectangular building sat on its own toward the north end of the prison’s twenty-five-acre grounds. The last time someone had been executed out there was seven- plus years ago. Mason had been working his way up through the ranks at the Florida State Prison out of Raiford, aspiring for a job like the one he had now–head of a large correctional institution, good salary, power. He blew out a long, disgusted breath. Why now? The Oregon penitentiary was way overcrowded, inmates doubled up in their cells, half of them out of their minds; fights were breaking out left and right, gangs getting tougher to handle; there were race issues, drugs–all while funding for counseling and rehab continued to get slashed. Why now, and why this?
Mason reread the warrant. The execution was scheduled for October 29, 12:01 A.M.
“Less than a goddamn month,” he said, shaking his head. Then, as if to rouse himself, he clapped his mismatched hands, one as dark as the rest of his black skin, one strangely, almost grotesquely white. There was no complaining in this job, he told himself. No moaning about what needed to be done. No stammering or stuttering or doing anything that might show the slightest bit of resistance or hesitancy. No. Everything in his career had been leading him to this kind of challenge: his demeanor, his words, his actions would all set a tone. And he knew exactly what that tone had to be.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1.

Why did Irene believe that she could not tell anyone about having forgiven Robbin? What did she think would happen? What was she afraid of? Have you ever forgiven someone but been afraid to admit it?

2.

Do you think that, like Irene, you could forgive someone who harmed your family?

3.

Irene tells her sister that forgiving Robbin was not a choice. What do you think she meant?

4.

Do you think it is necessary to have a belief in a God or a higher power to have made the choices Irene made? Do you think the ability to forgive can be learned?

5.

In the first chapter, Tab Mason describes his reaction to seeing his first execution. Have you ever given much thought to how executions affect those who must carry them out?

6.

Secrets—Nate’s, Shep’s, Irene’s—are the driving force behind the tragedy in this story. Do you think it is common for families to operate in such isolation from one another?

7.

Nate says he moved his family west to help Shep. How did he think this would help?

8.

How would you describe the novel’s central message or theme? And how does the ending of the book affect your understanding of the novel’s central message or theme?

9.

Tab Mason has an unusual skin disorder. Why do you think I chose to mark him in such a way? What difference would it make, if any, if he were simply a black man? Or a white man?

10.

Tab Mason is a man who offers “no surprises.” He is painstakingly in control of his words, his thoughts, and his emotions. And this has paid off, giving him the job, power, and resources to live a very comfortable life. Why then do you think he was willing to risk it all to help Irene Stanley?

11.

Bliss recounts a time she found her father having an emotional breakdown while in the barn. The event was heart-wrenching for her. Bliss loved and cared for her father more than anyone, yet she does nothing to try to help. Does it make sense to you that Bliss did not try to step in and help her father?

12.

Irene and Bliss had a difficult relationship. How was this transformed by Irene’s act of forgiveness?

13.

Bliss feels compelled to forgo her dream of college so that she can stay in Carlton and help her parents. Have you had times in your life when you have given up your dreams to help others?

14.

Why do you think Daniel Robbin refuses the offer to introduce new evidence that might overturn his murder conviction?

15.

In the end, Nate is in a bus going to Shep’s grave. Why do you think he is doing this? Do you think Nate’s  character changed over the course of the book? If so, how? If not, why not?

16.

Irene’s relationship with her church and faith were challenged in this story. In the end do you think her belief in God was stronger or weaker?

17. Why, of all the people Irene had in her life, did she open up to Doris, the woman who owned the Hitching Post in Wyoming?

18.

After Nate’s confession, Irene leaves her husband. As she drives across the country, how do her feelings about her son’s death, Nate , and herself change?

19.

Irene had strong feelings about staying around her family (“You don’t leave family,” in chapter 2). Yet emotionally, Irene did leave her family. She was not there for her daughter through high school, she never turned to her sister for help, and she and Nate’s relationship was estranged. In the end, what did this belief in family mean? What conclusions about Nate and Irene’s future can you draw from this sentiment?

20.

In the end, what do you think Irene, Bliss, and Tab Mason’s actions meant to Daniel Robbin?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A compelling, thought-provoking, and healing debut

    Shep Stanley is a loner, a mama's boy with a God given musical gift. When he is murdered in his home at the age of 15, his family's world spins out of control. Nothing is ever again the same, as if the soul of the family was murdered along with Shep. The murder occurs as the book opens, and guides us through the eighteen year long wait for the execution of Shep's killer. What the family learns along the way leads them to redemption, and teaches the reader about the healing power of forgiveness. I have been an avid reader for 40 years, and this is one of the best books I have ever read. I read through the night. This book should come with a warning label - do not be surprised if at the end of the book you weep. Weeping in part because of the heartbreak of their story - the strength they show through the heartbreak - the way they heal - and because you feel a bit cheated as you never want this amazing novel to end. As the killer comments right before he dies. "You've gone and done it now, General. You've really gone and done it now....Pain and grace, sir. Pain and grace." I can't wait to read Naseem Rakha's next book. Through The Crying Tree she has proven that she is a fresh new voice with a gift to share with those of us lucky enough to seek and receive her light.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wow This book Captures You!!

    This was receommended by my friend at Barnes and Noebl. It was a good read. I liked reading about the characters, how they moved, the tragedy and how they dealt witht he tragedy. Overall very well worth the time I am still thinking about this book weeks later.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Elegant style that reminds me of a Mozart

    I have just completed Naseem Rakha's work, "The Crying Tree", and feel moved to write with words of commendation and deep appreciation. I discovered the novel at an area Barnes & Noble bookstore where it was displayed with works by emerging new writers. The cover featured a young boy with a trumpet--an instant attraction to this recently retired school band director! Reading the cover notes confirmed my need to purchase.

    I am struck by the clean and simple way the novel reads... it reminds me of the elegant balance of a Mozart. I was hooked instantly with dialogue, character, and action that resonates as "true-to-life". Well-crafted and polished, I am now enjoying a slower re-read to savor the richness of its descriptive nuance

    In the process of reading, I grew to truly care for the players in the story and their struggles. The issue of forgiveness is profoundly important for our times. My parish is offering a series on capital punishment, and I have recommended "Crying Tree" for discussion.

    I look forward to Rakha's next works with anticipation and will continue to sing the praises of "Crying Tree".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    IS FORGIVENESS POSSIBLE?

    Debut author Naseem Rakha has penned a touching albeit sad story of a family riven by grief. Her characters are hobbled, not crippled physically but emotionally, sickened by hatred, isolated by an inability to communicate, and driven to find reason for the inexplicable.

    Our story opens in 2004 when Tad Mason , Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, receives notice that after 19 years an execution date has been set for Daniel Robbin. The condemned man had been but 19-years-old himself when he was found guilty of beating and then shooting a 15-year-old boy, Shep Stanley, during an attempted home robbery.

    Now, after all this time Robbin has stopped his appeals and it fell to Mason to make sure the execution is carried out properly and promptly. He'd never been in charge of what he referred to as a "procedure" before, and he has no stomach for it. However, it is his job and his career depends upon it being done correctly.

    Flashback to the fall of 1983 when Nate Stanley arrives home to tell his wife, Irene, that he has accepted a better job as deputy sheriff in the tiny town of Blaine, Oregon. The family which also consists of their two children, Bliss and Shep, will be relocating immediately. Irene does not want to leave the won in which she grew up, her family and lifelong friends, but she acquiesces and the family moves.

    They seem to be adjusting well to their new life when Shep is shot, killed in the family home. Shep's death was inconceivable to her, "There was no way she would let her boy die. He was her life, her breath, her son.....A mother does not let her son die." But Shep is gone.

    Mourning may take many forms. Nate becomes stone, quiet, silent. Irene finds release in alcohol and an ever growing hatred for her son's killer. Bliss is left very much to her own resources. Impervious to the pleas of her sister, Carol, to pull herself together Irene sinks lower until she hits rock bottom. It is years later after a heated confrontation with Bliss that she realizes what she has become, and she tries to help herself by writing a letter to Daniel in which she offers forgiveness.

    For this reader that is at the heart of Rakha's story - forgiveness. At one point Irene asks Superintendent Mason if he believes in forgiveness. His answer is, "I've heard of it." All of us have and The Crying Tree may cause many of us to redefine forgiveness in our own lives.

    - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Powerful story of tragedy, grief,and forgiveness

    The Crying Tree is a story about what happens to the Stanley family after their fifteen year old son is tragically murdered in a home invasion. The family harbors many secrets from each other and when the secrets are revealed it is emotional and shocking. The book also tells the story from three sides- the family, the murderer, and the executioner. I could not put this book down. The story takes place in different time periods and two different locations, Oregon and Illinois, but the transition is easy to follow. That is something I usually have a hard time with in books but the author has made the transition smooth and easy. Some of the subject matter is painful and difficult but very important to the powerful story of grief and forgiveness. This book would be great for discussions and book clubs. I like Ms. Rakha's writing style and will be watching out for her next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    THE CRYING TREE is a fabulous family drama

    In 1983 Union County, Illinois deputy sheriff Nate Stanley calls his wife Irene to inform her without warning that he accepted a position as a deputy post in Oregon. Irene is angry at her husband for not talking to her before he took the job with his Viet Nam buddy and frightened as she never was west of St, Louis. Still insisting he knows what is best for her and their two kids (teenager Shep and tweener Bliss), he relocates the family.

    In Blaine, Oregon, fifteen years old Shep enjoys exploring the countryside and seems settled to the living on the West Coast. However, one day Nate comes home after a shift to find his son in their kitchen savagely beaten and shot in what looks like a robbery turned ugly; Shep dies in his arms. Stunned, Nate and Irene go after the accused cold blooded killer of their oldest child mechanic Daniel Joseph Robbin with cold blooded determination over the next two decades until he is executed by the state. During much of the obsession, Bliss becomes de facto caretaker of her parents as Irene lives for the devil's death and Nate cannot find any solace. However, in 2004 with the execution date set, Irene knows she must see and forgive her son's killer, whom she recently began exchanging letters with, if she is to move on.

    THE CRYING TREE is a fabulous family drama that focuses on what happens to surviving loved ones when a violent unexpected tragedy occurs. The five key players in this calamity are fully developed in 1983 and in 2004; ergo the audience sees how much they each has changed over the two decades from the murder to the execution. Although a major "truism" twist will be seen early by everyone and feels intrusive, fans will appreciate Naseem Rakha's engaging aptly titled character story.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Family tragedy

    The Crying Tree is about what happens to a family when their son dies in a horrible accident. Teenager Shep Stanley is shot and killed in his own home during a botched burglary attempt. After his death, his parents and younger sister Bliss are forced to deal not only with Shep's death, but their feelings of hatred towards the person who shot him. Eventually, they come to realize that the murderer is not what he seems, and has some secrets of his own that will impact the family forever.

    I thought that the plot was a bit predictable, and the characters somewhat stereotypical. I also thought the characters had an unrealistic, out-dated look towards one of the main themes later on in the novel. I found it hard to believe that everyone would be that closed minded and hateful about this particular theme in the year 2004. I also thought the book got a bit preachy towards the end. Despite all that, I still thought the book was an interesting (and quick) read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    Great Discussion Book

    Great Book discussion book. Lots of issues to discuss from various viewpoints. It is a heart wringer of a story--towards the end you'll need a box of tissues close by.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Owlkit

    A ginger kit stumbles into the camp. Sunlight reflects off her ivory paws highlighting the unusual owl markings on them. Lifting her head slightly, she mews softly, "I'm Sweetspirit's new kit, Owlkit"

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Can i be one of your kits?

    An i be one of your kits?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2011

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2011

    a really good story

    This is a really good book... Though, I must say I could have done without the sexual innuendo/tension that was developed for Tab and Bliss, a little out of place in the story ( to me ). Really a great book otherwise..

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    Great+book

    Such+a+great+book.+It+breaks+your+heart%2C+makes+you+wonder+about+the+truth+in+a+situation%2C+and+you+never+see+the+end+coming.+Am+reading+it+for+the+second+time.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    Amazing book!

    love all the topics covered in this book! The writer really gets you to "that place" when you are reacing!i highyly regommend this book for adults!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    Original, captivating and haunting

    This is a very well written book. Serious subjects, raw emotions and interesting twists and turns along the way. This ia a story that you will think about for months, maybe longer.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A lovely read

    I recently asked some friends what they had recently enjoyed reading and one suggested that I read Crying Tree. The characters were thoughtfully written and very believable. Being from Oregon, and having worked in the prison system, I enjoyed the detail that Rakha put into this work. I would recommend this to friends and will look hopefully toward the day another book lands on my bookshelf from this author.

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  • Posted August 11, 2010

    Great Read

    One of the best books I've read in a long time.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    SPOLIER ALERT!!!!!'The Ending.....

    Is it just me or does anyone else feel conflicted about the ending??
    The ending lost me because I felt that I needed to suspend reality because I felt it could not possible be true in several areas....perhaps, I'm just not getting it..
    -with the type of new evidence..pixs, Nate's testimony, couldn't Daniel
    have gotten a new trial & with the amount of time served, couldn't he have gotten out..esp w/ all the media hoopla!
    -Would Daniel really have wanted to die knowing that he now had a surrogate Mom (connection to Shep)
    -Irene travels so far figuratively & literally, would she have really let Daniel die knowing he didn't kill Shep?? I don't believe that Irene would just give in..wouldn't that have been a slap in the face to Shep??

    I thought the book was very well written & has me still talking about (obviously)..really made me think about the death penalty aspect & forgiveness
    Wouldn't you love to hear a soundtrack to this book..

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  • Posted July 14, 2009

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    The Crying Tree

    Irene Stanley is startled when her husband Nate walks in one day and announces that he has gotten a new job in another city and the whole family is to move. Irene is confused and somewhat perplexed by this move and cannot understand why they must leave her childhood home, a home that they own mortgage free, away from all that they have known and their family and friends. Despite her misgivings, she packs up her children, Bliss and Shep and they leave home with her husband. But not long after they move and just as they are beginning to get settled into their new home, Shep is brutally murdered. This horrifying act forms the backbone of the whole story and asks many fundamental questions about the nature of the parent/child relationship and how it plays out when a child does not meet a set expectation.

    There is so much darkness and pain in this book but you cannot help but be drawn in by the narrative. As those left behind process their grief and anger toward each other and the killer, you discover the unspoken themes that can lie unsaid in any family. It is true that the murder of Shep was a major devastation on the family, but what becomes apparent is that there are many emotions/feelings that have been buried and would probably been left so but for Shep's death. If Shep had not been killed maybe the family would have remained "happy" but his death forces them to confront many issues that lay below the surface. Irene's grief is the most prominent in its expression and she spends many years after her son's death in a state of perpetual sadness and depression. But one day on Shep's birthday, she decides to write to his murderer as a way to free her heart from all the anguish she has been feeling. To her greatest surprise, he writes back and this launches a secret and very odd but interesting relationship between Irene and Shep's killer. Forgiveness is an overarching theme in this book and its presence or lack thereof affects each character differently.

    There was a surprise twist that seems to come out of nowhere and I am not sure how I feel about it. In some ways it adds another emotional tug on the whole story but I almost wish that element had been added earlier (or left out as a whole) to the story and one was able to fully explore its significance on the story as a whole.

    I really enjoyed this book and it is one that hunts you long after you have put it down.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    When tragedy strikes ....

    Imagine yourself in the early 1970's. A time when bell bottoms, mini skirts and platform shoes ruled the fashion world. The birth of Aerosmith, Kiss and the Ramones took center stage in the music world. A time of political awakening. Now imagine yourself knowing nothing about this and living in an isolated town in Oregon. You are living what appears to be the American dream - married, two kids (one boy, one girl), etc.... But, then tragedy strikes and what you love most in the world is taken from you. Your only son is brutally murdered in your home.
    -----
    How do you cope? How do you go on living? What kind of a life do you have? Can there be justice? "In The Crying Tree", we are witness to one family's struggle to survive. We share their grief and feel their desperation. We observe as they become bitter and frustrated with one another - they become strangers. There is forgiveness. There are secrets. There are sins of commission and sins of omission. When these are brought to the forefront, we see the unbreakable bonds of family surface.
    -----
    Ms. Rakha is a wonderful story teller. She was able to hold my attention until the end. I wanted to know how things would work out. The characters were sympathetic including the murderer. This is a tragic novel; however, it is also one of love, forgiveness and redemption. I recommend to those searching for a new voice. A good book for book clubs.
    -----
    Thank you Shelf Awareness and Random House for this copy.

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