cover image The Tree-Sitter

The Tree-Sitter

Suzanne Matson, . . Norton, $23.95 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-393-06046-1

At the start of Matson's third novel (after A Trick of Nature ), Julie Prince faces the end of her junior year at Wellesley and the expectations of her highly accomplished, somewhat overbearing mother, who pushes her to take on an internship, a trip to France or perhaps some résumé-building volunteer work. But Julie has fallen in love—both with Neil, an ecological activist who passionately espouses saving forests, and with his cause. Leaving her tidy life behind, she heads to the Oregon forests to take up her position in the branches of an old-growth Douglas fir. At first, she's convinced she's made the right decision: her meditative life in the trees gives her the peace that her hectic life has lacked, and her fiery affair with Neil blossoms. But when the tree-sitters start moving toward more violent means, and their peaceful existence is torn by tragedy, she wonders what, exactly, she's gotten herself into—and whether her own life is an even exchange for the trees'. Thoughtfully told, this story of the all-encompassing blaze of first love and an uneasy eco-activism is surprising and honest. (Feb.)