Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Killing Tree by Rachel Keener

The chickens began to creep on a steamy day in June. They were used to walking and pecking. But on that day, they learned the same thing that I had. You have to creep around the silence to survive it.

Title: The Killing Tree
Author: Rachel Keener
ISBN: 9781599951119
Publisher: Center Street/2009
Pages: 322

Mercy graduates from high school with no dreams. She does not even think of going to college. She is living with her forceful and domineering grandfather and her grandmother who is taken to be little bit mad. He mother had died giving birth to her under the apple tree after Father Heron had locked her out from his home and hearth.

Mercy works in the local diner and is happy enough with her lot with no dreams and expectations from Father Heron, who is a real hard man. Mercy somehow cannot fit in, like her friend Della, who is a very popular girl with the men. Mercy feels like an outsider even though she is 18 year old and lived in Crooked Top Mountain all her life. Then she meets Trout, a migrant worker, who works in the tomato fields. He too is an outsider, who does not fit in. Both come together and fall in love with each other. And Mercy leaves her home to be with him. But she forgets all about her powerful and ruthless grandfather, who does everything he can to keep them apart. No amount of plea on her part can bend him.

The Killing Tree is the story of Mercy, who right from her birth had to struggle for her survival. The Killing Tree is a great metaphor. Mercy's mother died giving birth to her under that apple tree. Mercy to has nightmares about it, wishing to take her life. Mercy's grandmother Rutha is a very interesting character who has a healing touch. She too had left her roots to be with the man she loves, although Father Heron seems like an unlikely character capable of loving and being loved. Della may seem frivolous but her bonding with Mercy always remains strong.

Rachel Keener has written a good book. Writing style is good and there is a bit of symbolism which addes to the story. Mercy may despair but she also has the strength to rise above anything. She may seem weak initially but she knows what has to be done. This book is about survival, love and friendship. It is not an easy read and it depicts life with all its failings. It cannot be called a comfort read yet it makes us feel fulfilled after reading it.


bermudaonion said...

I bought this a little while ago and I'm eager to read it after your review.

Beth F said...

I loved this book. It may be my top read this year. Nice review.

Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful review! I just added it to my TBR.

Anonymous said...

I love that line from the book. Really beautiful. And your review really makes me want to read it.