Title: Tree of Lives
Author: Elizabeth Garden
Genre: Literary Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.50
Based on actual events, Tree of Lives follows Ruth, an unconventional commercial artist, and her murderous great uncle Raymond. He is a ghost with a tragic secret who desperately wants to make amends. She is the only one willing to help, but first she needs to overcome a lifetime of heartbreaking turns.
I’d first like to thank Cristina Deptula for contacting me and sending me this book in exchange for my honest review.
The Tree of Lives is a powerful story that demonstrates how mental health, abuse etc can affect not just the victims but an entire family for generations. It highlights how learned behaviours become the norm and are carried on from parent to child.
Initially I found this story a hard read. There wasn’t anything in particular that was putting me off I just found my pace wasn’t quite what it usually was. I took a couple of days off from the book and started again with the headspace to take in this story. If you think you are going to be reading a delightful story of love and happy endings then you are mistaken. The Tree of Lives is honest, raw, hard hitting and emotional.
The story follows Ray and Ruth, two characters that are related but separated by generations. Their stories are told side by side as we learn of the abuse they have both suffered and how it affected them and those around them. Strangely I felt sorry for Ray. I know that what he did was unbelievably cruel but I could see how he got to that place and he obviously hadn’t received the proper medical attention. The treatment he endued in the ‘hospital’ was astonishing and barbaric! Is it any wonder that he was mentally unstable?
I had trouble sympathising with Ruth at times. I felt for her at the beginning, especially with the coin incident, but as I saw her repeating her mistakes I wanted to grab her and steer her down a different path. She clearly had a certain type of man that she liked and that was the wrong one but again she never had a stable role model so can’t be entirely to blame. Her family were appalling and they way they casted her as the black sheep, broke my heart. The incidents with her daughters made me so mad, I literally could of killed all the men that had wronged them but more importantly I wanted to kill their father! What I will say for Ruth is that she was a fighter. Every time she got a knock she fought tooth and nail to rise from the ashes and whilst this book focuses on some heavy subjects there it also demonstrates that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I’d like to finish by thanking the author for sharing her story with us. The bravery and honesty shines through the pages and her story will be identifiable to many.