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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli~★★★

Author: Tatjana Soli
Title: The Forgetting Tree
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "When Claire Nagy marries Forster Baumsarg, the only son of prominent California citrus ranchers, she knows she's consenting to a life of hard work, long days, and worry-fraught nights. But her love for Forster is so strong, she turns away from her literary education and embraces the life of the ranch, succumbing to its intoxicating rhythms and bounty until her love of the land becomes a part of her. Not even the tragic, senseless death of her son Joshua at kidnappers' hands, her alienation from her two daughters, or the dissolution of her once-devoted marriage can pull her from the ranch she's devoted her life to preserving. 
But despite having survived the most terrible of tragedies, Claire is about to face her greatest struggle: an illness that threatens not only to rip her from her land but take her very life. And she's chosen a caregiver, the inscrutable, Caribbean-born Minna, who may just be the darkest force of all. 
Haunting, tough, triumphant, and profound, The Forgetting Tree explores the intimate ties we have to one another, the deepest fears we keep to ourselves, and the calling of the land that ties every one of us together." 

Taryn's Review: This book was a hard book to rate because I wasn't sure what I was supposed to feel when I closed the book. Minna's betrayal was hurtful, but would Claire have recovered and felt rejuvenated the way she did if it wasn't for Minna?

While the book began with the tragedy of Joshua, the story mainly focused on Claire's later years in life. Claire's reflection on the land, her children, and her marriage were slow to me as the reader, but the book gained momentum when Minna entered Claire's life. Minna was as magical to the reader as she was to Claire. I best related to the book when it was seen from Claire's perspective; I questioned Minna's answers along with Claire, but I was also enchanted along with Claire regarding Minna's attitude, Minna's thoughts, and Minna's voodoo. Like Claire, I'm not sure I wanted to know the truth about Minna.

I was surprised when Soli revealed Minna's past to the reader, going back to Minna's childhood in the Caribbean and rehashing it to the point when Minna found herself in Southern California. This knowledge made me sympathetic toward Minna, but it also made me hate her treatment of Claire. Yet, it felt like Claire needed Minna. Was it better that Claire never know the truth?

The ending was a complete shock to me. I honestly don't know what I think about the way the story ended or if I found it plausible. I'm still wondering what I was supposed to take away from it. The book had so many layers to it and I'm not sure how I was supposed to interpret the stories in regard to the bigger story of the book. I feel flabbergasted when think about the storyline and the way it ended. So again I go back to the point that I don't know what to feel. I wouldn't read this book again, but I wouldn't necessarily try to stop someone else from reading it. Perhaps confusing is the best way for me to sum up the book. Soli's writing didn't jump out to me as some other writers have, but I wouldn't mind giving her first novel a chance, either. 

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