The Killing Tree by Rachel Keener was an amazing read. It was the kind of book you stay up until 1 in the morning reading “just one more chapter”.
This is Keener’s first novel, which makes it all the more impressive. The voice is incredibly unique and the plot was unpredictable. The imagery, symbolism and message were beautiful, bewitching and powerful. (And I have to say that the colloquial language used is addictive. I keep finding myself thinking in the dialect used long after I’ve put the book down.)
I know when a book was really good because even if I’m satisfied with the ending, I want more. I close the book and mourn the characters I will never see again and the place I no longer get to visit. This is one of those books.
The Killing Tree is about a young girl named Mercy who is coming of age in the mountains of Appalachia, the only place she’s ever known. She’s being raised by her grandparents, Mamma Rutha an eccentric nature-loving grandmother with a mysterious, magical connection to the mountain, and Father Heron, a strict religious grandfather who cares more than anything about his own reputation and can’t stand Mercy’s promiscuous best friend Della. Mercy’s life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as she works her job at a BBQ diner in their small town, until she falls in love with a migrant worker named Trout. Trout is Caucasian like Mercy, but is still looked down upon as a second class citizen by those who live on the mountain, including Father Heron. Mercy must choose to toe the line, or follow her heart.
I recommend this book highly. Look for it in March 2009.