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The Killing Tree: A Novel

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Overview

It's the summer after Mercy Heron graduates from high school, and she's living in the household of her domineering grandfather and a grandmother whose behavior has always been erratic—some folks even call it crazy. They've raised Mercy since her mother died giving birth to her under the June apple tree, after Father Heron locked her out and ignored her pleas for help.
Mercy's days are spent working at the local diner, and hanging out with her wild best friend Della. Unlike ...

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Killing Tree

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Overview

It's the summer after Mercy Heron graduates from high school, and she's living in the household of her domineering grandfather and a grandmother whose behavior has always been erratic—some folks even call it crazy. They've raised Mercy since her mother died giving birth to her under the June apple tree, after Father Heron locked her out and ignored her pleas for help.
Mercy's days are spent working at the local diner, and hanging out with her wild best friend Della. Unlike Della, she's never seriously considered leaving the insulated community on Crooked Top mountain. Not until that summer when she meets Trout, a man who opens Mercy's eyes to a world beyond what she's known—both physically and emotionally. Their relationship must be kept secret, because Father Heron won't approve of his granddaughter being involved with a migrant worker. But when Mercy tries to escape, she'll learn just how powerful, and ruthless, her grandfather can be. And the truth of her past will threaten to forever bind her to the mountain.

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Editorial Reviews

The Charlotte Observer
"Keener reveals the dignity and sense of community among the outcast and itinerant."
Pamela Miller
This dark, dramatic novel set in the Appalachians is an impressive and often lyrical debut by a young writer born in Virginia . . .Rachel Keener shows some serious literary chops; her characters are complex, her plot twists are pleasingly unpredictable and her writing oozes atmosphere. Put this one on your summer reading list.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Pamela Miller - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"This dark, dramatic novel set in the Appalachians is an impressive and often lyrical debut by a young writer born in Virginia . . .Rachel Keener shows some serious literary chops; her characters are complex, her plot twists are pleasingly unpredictable and her writing oozes atmosphere. Put this one on your summer reading list."
author of "The Book of Marie" Terry Kay
"It has been years since I've read a book as profoundly dramatic in its examination of survival as Rachel Keener's 'The Killing Tree. This is a story of the magic and the meanness of southern mountain people. In one way or another I have known each of them, and Rachel Keener knows them also. Her writing in this debut novel is wonderful."
The Charlotte Observer
Keener reveals the dignity and sense of community among the outcast and itinerant.
Pamela Miller
This dark, dramatic novel set in the Appalachians is an impressive and often lyrical debut by a young writer born in Virginia . . .Rachel Keener shows some serious literary chops; her characters are complex, her plot twists are pleasingly unpredictable and her writing oozes atmosphere. Put this one on your summer reading list.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599951119
  • Publisher: Center Street
  • Publication date: 3/18/2009
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Keener

Rachel Keener was born in the mountains of southwest Virginia in 1978. After graduating from Carson Newman College, she attended law school at Wake Forest University. She graduated in the top of her class at the age of twenty-three. Today, Rachel lives in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina with her husband and two sons. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

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(1)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting

    Creative and different. I'm glad I picked this book off the shelf and gave it a chance. It really is a unique story taking place in a setting I am far removed from. But I really felt as though I understood the people and their feelings and situations and emotions. I still have a question about the ending, but it is a great discussion question. Give it a try.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    Great read!

    This book is excellent. The author's language is so vivid. Her descriptions of the mountains, the valley, love, and hate put you on Crooktop Mountain. As a reader you don't just follow along with the main character's (Mercy) journey...you walk right next to her.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    life in Appalachia

    Living on Crooked Top Mountain in Appalachia, recent high school graduate Mercy Heron dreams of visiting the ocean although she also understands she has no future beyond waitressing at the diner owned by kind Rusty who is interested in her. Her mom died giving birth to her and her father was never there so her grandparents raised her. Her grandpa Father Heron is a deacon who expects perfect pious behavior from her; while her grandma Mamma Rutha is a bit crazy. In fact everyone except perhaps Mercy and her best friend Della assume Father is a martyr for living with a lunatic. <BR/><BR/>Della, known for her wild ways, persuades Mercy to go to the docks where all the cool kids hang out. Mercy meets a boy her age who says he saw a fire-trout in the water. He also tells her his name is Trout. She is attracted to him, but Della warns her he is unacceptable as a mater migrant worker who harvests crops. When Mercy walks to town to buy jeans, it begins to rain and Trout gives her a lift. They find much in common and begin seeing one another though she knows Father will be irate with her transgressions just like he was with her mom. <BR/><BR/>The sense of life in Appalachia is superbly portrayed as few novels have been able to do. The lead couple seems genuine and the support staff very strong either enhancing the mountain lifestyle or the relationship between the lead couple (not necessarily in a positive way). Although the descriptions and characterizations overwhelm the limited action including the climatic suspense, readers who relish a deep sense of place through a powerful cast will want to read this keen look at Appalachia.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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