The Killing Tree

Rachel Keener, Author . Hachette/Center Street $13.99 (324p) ISBN 978-1-59995-111-9

An Appalachian coming-of-age novel detours through a migrant workers camp for an intensely lyrical, emotional debut. Raised on Crooked Top Mountain, Mercy Heron was raised by her grandparents, crazy Rutha and cold church deacon Father Heron, after her unwed mother died in childbirth. Mercy, 18 and working as a diner waitress, falls in love with Trout, a migrant fruit picker who shares Rutha's connection to mountain magic. Echoing her mother's actions, Mercy tries to escape Father Heron's disapproval and goes on the run with Trout, and she's quickly thrown into the tumultuous life of a migrant worker. Despite her fortitude, Mercy finds she cannot avoid Father Heron's influence, and she returns to Crooked Top for a dangerous confrontation. Keener's vivid imagery and lush, folksy language evoke traditions about nature and mountain people, reality and myth, piety and sin. Though occasionally overwrought, the novel succeeds in bringing to life a slice of mountain life where old and new, foreign and native, real and imagined, poetic and mundane blend against a harsh and beautiful landscape. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-59995-186-7
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