I don’t think I intended to read this book in April, but the fact that it seemed to be calling from my ever-growing TBR pile (and the library began sending notices that I was out of renewals for this one). It’s length is a little intimidating – at 500 pages, it had the potential to create a bottleneck in moving through that TBR pile. While for me, April is not an ideal month for reading (especially not this year, as more people and events were taking place in “post” pandemic life) April IS a good time of year to read this book, a love letter to trees. How do you relate most to trees? Do you think of them as a metaphor for family? Do you connect to concept of “growth” or returning to your “roots”? Does the connection between the structure of a tree and the chakras in our bodies resonate with you? I think it must for this author – despite the book not really mentioning yoga overtly or being overly metaphysical, the structure of the book itself could also be the structure of a new series of yoga / meditation videos produced by Yoga with Adrienne (full disclosure: I love Find What Feels Good). The book is divided into sections: roots, trunk, crown and seeds. There are so many reasons why this innately understood structure is an apt metaphor for life – and, as it turns out, a great story.
The first section, roots, lays the groundwork in several seemingly disparate chapters. It’s essentially the origin story for each of the main characters. This is the sort of novel where several story threads are introduced, then woven together over the course of time. I love this kind of novel, and this section was done quite well – each story would have been just fine to read on its own, but I was also very much looking forward to the moment when these stories might intersect. Each origin story is rooted in a connection to trees – for some characters, an obvious and defining connection, and for others it’s something more oblique. The story grows into the trunk – and here, we get the heart of the novel. Many but not all characters meet and the action moves forward with a stronger central thread. Several of the characters are spurred into some late-90s environmental activism, while others invest in developing their expertise in other ways. Each story, even the ones not directly tied to the central plot (yet) remains connected to trees, such that when we reach the crown, we feel deeply for not only these characters but also the trees that they love. By the final section, seeds, we are rewarded with a glimpse at connection between all of the characters – eventually, each story was touched by the others. There are so many lovely moments that feel well earned, something that is made possible by the books length. Powers was able to take his time with each story, delivering an in depth look at not just these nine lives but also the moments / people / trees that made them.
The writing is lovely, and the topic will make you think more sentimentally about the trees around you (and the ones you may never get to see). It’s a perspective that it’s easy to lose, getting caught up in day to day life – but ultimately, we are all here on Earth together. We includes the plants and animals that collectively LIVE here. We have roughly 4000 weeks, some of these trees have that many YEARS – surely their wisdom is worth something.