Book Review: The Language of the Trees
I love to read novels, but have so little spare time that when I do manage to sit down with a book I am often disappointed. I anticipate a journey filled with wonderful characters. I want storylines with language that carries me to another place. The Language of the Trees by Ilie Ruby is the first book in a long time that I was unable to put down. It is poetic, the setting and story is compelling and rich and the characters are people you will recognize. I can’t recommend it enough.
Ilie is the adoptive mother of three children from Ethiopia. She spent the summers of her childhood in Canandaigua, a small village in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. It’s an area rich with the history and the mystical beliefs of the Seneca Indians who live there still. The area is the setting for the book and is the place where the characters converge to find healing and redemption for the mistakes they have made in their lives.
The story centers on Grant Shongo, a member of the Seneca tribe who has returned to his childhood home to contemplate his failed marriage and his life. His first love, Echo O’Connell coincidentally returns to the lake at the same time to check on her father, Joseph, who is getting old and frail. Joseph adopted her when her parents died and she is terrified of becoming an orphan again. As Grant and Echo struggle to heal, we meet other characters on the lake, all of whom have harbored some secret that has left them with lifelong wounds. You feel their heart aches and cheer for them as their limitations are revealed and they try to find redemption.
Interwoven is a rich tapestry of the mystical beliefs of the natives and a deep love of a place that they call home. It is a book that defies a label — it is part mystery, part love story, part ghost story and pure beauty. I am grateful that this book fell into my hands. Its words and message stayed with me long after I put it down and that is not something that happens very often these days.
I can’t recommend it highly enough. See an interview with Ilie here.