The Memory Trees

432p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062366238.
Gr 9 Up—A family feud lasting 12 generations is at the heart of this introspective novel. Eight years ago, Sorrow Lovegood's 16-year-old sister was killed in a fire, her mother suffered a nervous breakdown, and Sorrow was taken away to live with her father in Florida. Now Sorrow, at 16, returns to the Vermont apple orchard where she grew up in order to fill in the hazy parts of her memory. She is immediately reminded of the fierce animosity between her historically matriarchal clan and the neighboring Abrams family, who have been trying to take the Lovegood land for centuries. Flashbacks of Sorrow's reclusive ancestors depict many hardships, including the murder of nine-year-old twins by an Abrams man and a Lovegood mother who killed her children rather than have them starve during a harsh winter. Slowly, Sorrow begins to piece together what happened during the last days of her sister's life, and her own role in the tragic events. But a startling suicide and more heartrending revelations occur before understanding and healing can finally begin. The slow-paced, mostly quiet narrative is interrupted several times by short bursts of anger that generally involve Sorrow or another character uncharacteristically flinging F-bombs. This brooding tale of a strange family and its secrets may appeal to readers who enjoy lyrical stories of grief and redemption.
VERDICT A good choice for large YA collections.

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