Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, by Christine Nolfi

For years, Ouriana has been connected to the Fabians, the town's premier family.  She was friends with Jason, best friends, but a night of passion with Jason's brother Troy drove a wedge between Ouriana and Jason.  When a tragedy befalls the family, relationships change and long held family secrets are revealed, permanently altering the lives of all those involved.

As a small town girl originally from Ohio, so much of this book felt familiar to me.  I loved the setting, and I loved how accurately the author captured the feeling of that small town life.  The concept of one well to do family supplying jobs and opportunities that affect an entire town is familiar to me.  And the fact that the same family will have deep family secrets is also familiar.  Anyone from a small town can quickly tell you who the "it" families are in town, and explain the power they hold over so many.  What I liked about the Fagan family is, despite their wealth and power, they possess a humble goodness.  They are just so likable, relatable.  You cannot help but feel for them in their times of pain and sorrow, and rejoice in they happiness.

I really liked Ouriana as a character, because she seemed so non-traditional.  Her choice of occupation, the way she carries herself, and the personal choices she makes concerning her family are all full of strength and independence, something I think we see far too little of in female protagonists.  Often, authors feel that in order to make a female character strong, she must be hard as well; this author does a wonderful job of creating a strong yet soft female character.  I think that Ouriana has so much depth and dimension.

The story itself is really engaging.  While reading about tragic events can be hard, even in fiction, I liked that there was positive resolution to the situations.  Difficult topics, like rape, murder, and child abuse, when handled appropriately, can really make a story come to life.  After all, real life is full of these difficult situations, and it only makes sense to have books be as real to life as possible.  This is what allows readers to relate to the stories, and apply the lessons learned to their own lives.  I liked seeing, in this story, that wealth, power, and privileged do not preclude someone from dealing with difficulties, and that regardless of the hand you are dealt, everyone has the opportunity to handle strife with grace.  The book takes its characters and its readers on an emotional journey, one that may provide all of them with healing.  All in all, a solid book.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.


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