Book Review: Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson

Sunday, June 5, 2016
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: Where the Trees Were
Author: Inga Simpson
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2016

Synopsis: "Finding a grove of carved trees forged a bond between Jay and her four childhood friends and opened their eyes to a wider world. But their attempt to protect the grove ends in disaster, and that one day on the river changes their lives forever.

Seventeen years later, Jay finally has her chance to make amends. But at what cost? Not every wrong can be put right, but sometimes looking the other way is no longer an option."

My thoughts: This book alternates between Jayne's life when she was younger, and her life in the present day, cleverly changing the point of view between the two times as well - using first person during the chapters with her younger self, and third person during the chapters with her present-day self.

The story explores Jay's relationships with her childhood friends, and who she becomes as a result of those relationships. There is also a little investigation into how growing up can really change who you are and who you spend time with, and issues like disability and sexuality are touched upon during the course of this.

I really enjoyed this book in the end - Simpson has a fantastic ability to describe a natural setting so beautifully that you feel like you are actually there, and her knowledge of the Australian landscape is quite a wonderful addition to her writing.

However, I do have to say that, at times, I had trouble connecting with the main character, Jay. Sometimes I felt like I totally understood what she was saying and going through, and other times it felt kind of distant and muffled, and I couldn't really make out what she was thinking or what was really happening in the story. This occasions always made me stop, and that would take me out of the story, which I found a little frustrating. The times where I was able to stay in the story were fantastic, and I became really intrigued by Jay's interest in Australian art.

Overall, I found this book to be in a world of its own - one that I really enjoyed visiting. I think, had I not had those moments of feeling like Jay wasn't quite real, I would be recommending it to everyone for some decent Aussie literature. For now, I will just recommend it to some people.

(I received a review copy of this book from Hachette. Thank you!)

A favourite line from the book: "'Tree burials are traditional in a lot of cultures. Interring a body inside the trunk, beneath the roots, or even up in the branches.'
'And you like your trees.'
'Better than graveyards.'
Sarah smiled. 'Too many ghosts?'
'All those rows of marble and cement, mowed lawn. Dark suits despite the hot sun. Give me a tree for my tombstone any day.'"

You would like this book if: You fancy something a bit slower, a bit more considering; you want to try some Australian literature with beautiful descriptions of the landscape.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Something with eucalyptus leaves in it would suit, for sure! Or just your basic billy tea, preferably made over a camp-fire.

Rating:  7.5/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

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