Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review and Blog Tour: The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby

It didn't stick with me like I thought it would.

Synopsis from author's website:
In the sprawling lake region of Canandaigua, New York—a place where some families have secrets they would do anything to keep—little Luke Ellis disappeared. Now, over a decade later, his teenage sister, Melanie, has vanished, abandoning her infant son. As the frantic search for Melanie ensues, Grant Shongo, a Seneca healer, finds himself caught up by a spirit that draws him into a world where nature and the spiritual realm are intertwined and nothing is as it seems. It is only with the help of his childhood love, Echo O'Connell, that the mystery of the Ellis children can be put to rest. But before the healing must come the forgiveness. Written in a magic realist vernacular, THE LANGUAGE OF TREES examines the tremulous bonds between parents and children, lovers and friends, and restless spirits—both living and not. It is a story that will make you believe that the spirits of those we love watch over us, that people can heal each other, and that if you can truly forgive yourself, the world will return to you all of your forgotten dreams.

I originally wrote the review for The Language of Trees two weeks ago, moments after I read the last page.  For some reason, computer gnomes most likely, my review did not save, so here I am two weeks later...with a slightly different opinion.  The gnomes did me a favor, they allowed me to step back and take a look at a book again.  Unfortunately, I found The Language of Trees did not have staying power.

The first time around, I did enjoy this book and thought that it was a beautiful story with many of the Native American "magic" weaved throughout the story of this little town on Canandaigue Lake. 

My biggest complaint about the book was that the words got in the way.  The writing felt forced at times.  There were some great ideas, but the too obvious "words of wisdom" were poorly positioned and didn't feel authentic.  I had to wonder if the novel was over-edited, because at times there were passages that didn't flow, and were inconsistent where they were positioned.

There were times when the writing worked.  It was as if Ilie Ruby was in the zone and her words spilled out of her effortlessly.  Ms. Ruby must have been alone at her desk, in a quiet house when her imagination kicked in and she lost herself in her story.  Again, it makes me wonder about the editing or rewrites.  It makes me want to see the manuscript!

Some of my favorite moments in the book, had little sprinkles of Ilie Ruby's magical writing in it. 

"Most beautiful thing is to see hope come back into a face."
"He thought her beautifully human."
"...she was gentle with the world but not afraid of it..."

I enjoyed the story of Grant and Echo, and the intertwining families of Canandaigua Lake. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Echo and Joseph - the only parent-child relationship in the whole story that is loving and functional, and it's also the only one that's not biological.  The characters were alive, and the plot was interesting and magical, but I did not connect with the story enough for it to stick with me. 

Book Extras:
TLC Book Tour Stops for The Language of Trees
Ilie Ruby's website
Facebook Page

Watch the Book Trailer

About the Book:
The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Avon A (July 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061898643
ISBN-13: 978-0061898648

About the Author:
Ilie Ruby grew up in Rochester, NY and spent her childhood summers on Canandaigua Lake, the setting for her debut novel, THE LANGUAGE OF TREES. She is the winner of the Edwin L. Moses Award for Fiction, chosen by T.C. Boyle; a Kerr Foundation Fiction Scholarship; and the Phi Kappa Phi Award for Creative Achievement in Fiction. Ruby is also a recipient of the Wesleyan Writer's Conference Davidoff Scholarship in Nonfiction and the Kemp Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship. She has worked on PBS archaeology documentaries in Central America, taught 5th grade in Los Angeles on the heels of the Rodney King riots of 1992, and written two children's books, MAKING GOLD and THE LAST BOAT. In 1995, she graduated from the Masters of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she was fiction editor of The Southern California Anthology. Ruby is a painter, poet and proud adoptive mom to three children from Ethiopia.
The Language of Trees Blog Tour Stops:

Tuesday, July 20th: I’m Booking It
Wednesday, July 21st: Café of Dreams
Thursday, July 22nd: Alison’s Book Marks
Monday, July 26th: Library Queue
Wednesday, July 28th: Fizzy Thoughts
Monday, August 2nd: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, August 4th: Take Me Away
Thursday, August 5th: Booksie’s Blog
Monday, August 9th: Jenny Loves to Read
Tuesday, August 10th: Chefdruck Musings
Thursday, August 12th: Books Like Breathing


S. Krishna said...

Sometimes I wonder whether it would be better to step back for a week or two before writing reviews. But by then I would have probably forgotten most of what I wanted to say!

bermudaonion said...

Too bad it didn't stick with you. It does sound like the author has potential though.

heathertlc said...

Despite it's lack of sticking power for you, it does sound like this was an enjoyable read. I'm fascinated with Native American mysticism so I'm really looking forward to seeing how that plays out here.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

IntrovertedJen said...

I can't decide whether I want to pick this book up or not. I like the title, I like the cover, my favorite author does some "Native American mysticism," but the few reviews I've seen aren't really grabbing me. I'll probably hold off for a while.

Great review though!

LisaMM said...

The point about the only loving and functional parent-child relationship not being biological makes me want to pick this up. Like the author, I'm an adoptive mom, and love it when that kind of relationship is treated well in literature (because frequently, it's not). Interesting and magical almost always works for me, so although it didn't stick with you, I think I'd like it.

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