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The Tin Can Tree

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,103 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
In the small town of Larksville, the Pike family is hopelessly out of step with the daily rhythms of life after the tragic, accidental death of six-year-old Janie Rose. Mrs. Pike seldom speaks, blaming herself, while Mr. Pike is forced to come out of his long, comfortable silence. Then there is ten-year-old Simon, who is suddenly without a baby sister -- and without unders ...more
Published June 15th 1986 by Berkley (first published 1965)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nadine Larter
I have a weird relationship with Anne Tyler. I met her when I was nineteen. I was camping in Tennessee and she kept me company, and as she did so I began to discover that I really wanted to write. I have loved her since then, always, and am quick to mention that The Accidental Tourist is one of my favourite books. She is strange though. Possibly in a way that I can't quite express. While reading her other books (I have not gotten through all of them yet - not even all of hers that I own) I find ...more
Dec 10, 2011 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really do like Anne Tyler's books. Her books (there are quite a few) are not so much plots, as in moving along story lines, as they are character studies. When you carefully read her words, you feel like you know these people. You feel like you're there with them. Very often her characters are sad, melancholy people doing ordinary, unexciting things, dealing with loss or disappointment. Sounds depressing, huh...

This book is about three (rather dysfunctional) family units living in a three unit
Aug 23, 2014 Murray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Tyler has been one of my favorite writers for the last 30 years. I don't think it's because I grew up a few neighborhoods away from her; I think it's because she's talented, tender, and wise. "The Tin Can Tree" is her second novel and will celebrate it's 50th anniversary next year. It's the story of several families and individuals 'trapped' in a small town in any state in the country, living their daily lives, wanting something better, but not really knowing how to grasp it. Almost sounds ...more
Apr 13, 2012 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I derive so much pleasure out of discovering an author that has written many books (19 in this case) and I have never read any of them. It means I have a lot to look forward to reading! I chose Anne Tyler because I read a review of her latest book, The Beginner's Goodbye, in the newspaper.
I found the second book she wrote at my library. The Tin Can Tree seemed a good place to start.
The setting is a rural, backwater area of the South. The story opens at the funeral of six-year-old Janie Rose Pik
Apr 02, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Bookmooch
In the small town of Larksville, the Pike family is in the midst of terrible crisis. They are hopelessly out of step with the rhythms of daily life after the tragic, accidental death of six-year-old Janie Rose. Janie Rose's absence is keenly felt by everyone and her family will never be whole again.

Lou - Janie's mother - blames herself for her daughter's death, and so has retreated into her own private world of grief. She seldom speaks to those around her and is barely aware of her surroundings.
Jul 14, 2012 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quick, enjoyable read and shows flashes of the genius that Anne Tyler later developed. She really captures the feel of the place and the cadence of people's lives and language. The characters didn't come as alive for me as in most of her later books, and I think that is because she tried too hard to explain them here, instead of just letting them be.
Feb 20, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I miss the usual quirky character Anne Tyler usually has though as in the Accidental tourist and If morning ever comes and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.
This is a lovely story though of a family and how they deal with the loss of a child and the 2 sets of neighbors that live in their triplex.
Oct 18, 2011 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her second book , Anne Tyler again squeezes out emotional power from her characters.

"Bravest thing about people, Miss Joan, is how they go on loving mortal beings after finding out there's such a thing as dying.”
Jan 06, 2014 Candace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Anne Tyler; fans of first novels by distinguished writers
This was a strong early novel for Anne Tyler. It moved verrrry slowly, and the resolution kind of went over my head or was tacked on and artificial. However, the characters were interesting, and the story kept me engaged.

I have real problems with the character of Ansel -- was he chronically ill? Dying? A drunk? Selfish? Caring? A hypochondriac or a drunken hypochondriac? The answers to those questions never became clear to me. I don't really know, but as a chronically ill person, I was saddened
Gary Garth McCann
Another GR reviewer commented re this book that everything he thought was going to happen didn't. This seems to me usually true in Tyler, and isn't it what makes good fiction so interesting? It's like reading mystery, only the mystery is life itself. In The Tin Can Tree, as one family tries to heal from the death of one of their children, a neighbor lives under the burden of caring for his physically and mentally disabled brother, while he's in love with a woman who wants a life with him. The sm ...more
This was read in my great Read-Everything-Anne-Tyler-Ever-Wrote quest.
Nov 16, 2010 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical Tyler...I came away uplifted by the ordinary...
Linda Davidson
This was one of Anne Tyler's earlier books, and she admits that her writing style hadn't yet developed, but I enjoyed the quirky characters. I always feel that her books are so full of dysfunctional quirky characters that the fun is trying to figure out what makes them tick. This story is about the accidental death of a 6 year old girl, and the depressed with drawl experienced by the mother, and the way the community dealt with this and other normal life emotions about grief. Lots of unusual cha ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-fiction
The second book written by this prolific author. In this one she displays again her ability to show characters so realistically and yet so individually that you wish you knew someone like that. In this story, there is a young man who lives with his sick brother. At the end of the month, they stretch their budget by taking everything out of the freezer and making a pizza. It serves the dual purpose of defrosting the freezer. It has been years since I had a freezer that needed to be defrosted. As ...more
Nov 25, 2012 Anthony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
I have to admit, I think that I had missed the meaning of "The Tin Can Tree". Everything I thought that was probably going to happen didn't. I might have to read the novel again to see what I had missed while reading it the first time.

The overall plot was about characters reacting after the death of Janie Rose Pike, a six year old (who appeared to be "special") that died from a tractor accident. There's the Pikes: Lou (mother), Simon (10 year old brother), James (the father), and Joan (the niece
Karl Marx S.T.
Jun 01, 2012 Karl Marx S.T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Ms. Tyler’s earlier novels and certainly not one of her best as she also claims it but that doesn’t mean you can easily pass on this one. Having said that, I find passages which are really funny (though I guess the humor is really intentional to tone down the family drama) and descriptions I haven’t found in any writers I’ve read before. Common situations we usually see everyday but most writers failed to describe beautifully, chose not to or they really don’t have an idea how to make the ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Molly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-fire
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While a smaller, almost novella sized novel about characters familiar to those in Tyler's audience, it is simply amazing how this book, written in her early 20's, still manages to captivate and amuse. The prone, home-bound brother is a truly original creation. I worried that I would find her early novels reflecting what one would expect to hear from a first time, very young novelist in the sixties. But the book is timeless and her style already cemented. Slower paced, but a fine read.
An oldie, published 50 years ago, her second novel. But oh my, she has a way of writing that gets under my skin. I find Ann Tyler has a 'Steinbeck' quality in her writing. She just can picture ordinary people, living ordinary lives perfectly. I wish I could shake the characters in this book a bit, shouting: DO something about it.
Dec 21, 2014 Konstantin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: serious
This novel was much better than her previous, "Back When We Were Grownups", and not just in the style, but the overall feel. James, Joan, Simon, and their families and neighbors all gather at the death of a six-year Janie Pike, Simon's sister. James, a neighbor takes photos, and these seem to expose or catch people at their most awkward or relaxed, which is important. He brings to the novel a sense of disorder, not only in his past, but in his present. With his sick brother, James is forced to l ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually love Anne Tyler novels, but this one just seemed a bit lacking for me. The emphasis was so heavy on character development there weren't many plot points, and so I often felt like I was reading the same character descriptions over and over. I did enjoy the way it ended, which felt a bit hopeful and true to the characters.
I've enjoyed many of Anne Tyler's books over the years. I have to say that this one was not one of my favorites, although I would give it a 3.5 if I could. The book was written many years ago, and that may explain why it lacked some of the writing depth that her more recent books have had. Some of the characters in the novel, especially Ansel, were somewhat irritating to me. The characters of Joan, Mrs. Pike, and the spinster sisters were also in that category. Ansel is such a self absorbed and ...more
Leon Taylor
Dec 20, 2015 Leon Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Ms. Tyler's so enjoyed this book. That said, it is one of her earlier books (copyright 1965) so maybe not quite up to some of her later books. You can see her future books in this book, but she is still finding her footing as a writer.
Jul 02, 2015 Beek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had been Jonesing for some Anne Tyler and chose to retread this one. I honestly can say I don't recall reading it when it was published but I must have because I consumed new Tyler works. I enjoyed this one and got my fix for the time being.
Sep 23, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Tyler's books are so relaxing to read. There's no exciting plot hurtling to it's conclusion but instead a slow progression of events unfolding. Most of all I love the characters she creates that I can't help caring about and in that way she reminds me a lot of John Irving.
Angela Lewis
So far my least favourite of her books. It has a depressing edge that made me feel that I couldn't wait to finish it and pick up something more cheery. Of course, this is intentional and does not mean that I'm done with her writing.
Jan 17, 2016 Fiona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early Anne Tyler that I had somehow missed. All the familiar elements were there: interesting yet everyday characters; everyday activities and one unsettling event to measure all this everyday activity against. Always thought provoking, always keeps me reading.
Was a sad book with little Simon being the most important character to me. Very interesting characters throughout the whole story. I did not think it was one of Tyler's best. A quick read.
Marissa Morrison
This was riveting and rang true emotionally. It's about getting stuck in relationship ruts, fleeing relationships, and making choices about how to interact with those you love to develop new paths.
Dec 06, 2011 Marilyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really like Anne Tyler, so I'm surprised at myself for giving this book such a low rating, but there really wasn't much to like. I found myself reading it just to get it over with so I could read the other book waiting on my shelf. The main problem was there was no plot. It was about a little girl who dies and how those around her react to it, with a half-baked love story thrown in that had absolutely no resolution at the end--no wedding, no breakup, not even a conversation. I know AT's books ...more
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts a ...more
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“Bravest thing about people is how they go on loving mortal beings after finding out there's such a thing as dying.” 23 likes
“Now, when you sit, your blood sort of sits along with you. It don’t go rushing around your brain no more. Consequently, it takes that much more time to get rid of some sad idea in your mind. The process is slowed considerable. Whereas if you hurry your blood up some … There is a sizable amount of people could benefit from what I know.” 0 likes
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