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The Family Tree

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  2,453 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
THE ONCE FERTILE EARTH OF DORA HENRY'S CHILDHOOD HAS BEEN UNDERVALUED AND OVERDEVELOPED. NOW NATURE, APPARENTLY, HAS DECIDED TO FIGHT BACK. Police officer Dora Henry is investigating the bizarre murders of three geneticists. Meanwhile, strange things are happening everywhere she turns. Weeds are becoming trees; trees are becoming forests. Overnight, a city is being transfo ...more
ebook, 478 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 10, 2012 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Tepper, how I love you. Why have I not read all of your books?

This is, at first, a confusing bunch of unrelated stories and then suddenly, magically, inevitably it is one blisteringly good story- a story that makes one question one's essential assumptions about what it means to be human, what it means to be ethical, what it means to be good. There's a richness here that wells up slowly and almost imperceptibly, a richness that comes from top-notch writing and plotting. This is a book to be r
Feb 17, 2008 Stevelvis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SHERI S. TEPPER-- Author of many books including these I have read and recommend: After Long Silence, The Awakeners, Beauty, Companions, The Family Tree, The Fresco, The Gate to Women's Country, Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Grass, Plague of Angels, Raising the Stones, Shadow's End, Sideshow, Singer From the Sea, Six Moon Dance, True Game, and The Visitor. All of Tepper's books have strong female characters, ecological plot twists and complicated storylines in which many characters must struggle wi ...more
May 18, 2009 Gentlyferal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Personally, I think this is Tepper's best. The wide, mythic sweep of alien culture, existential drama, world-changing decisions, are all here. Her use of klunky exotic character names is kept in check, for once. The characters are more convincing than usual -- in fact, quite believable and enjoyable. All this goodness is wrapped around one of the most audacious plot twists I have ever seen - and handled much more deftly than I would have thought possible.
Aug 06, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've ever read. Following the story of Dora in the present day and Opalears/Nassif in another entirely, the two stories converge with the best twist I have never seen coming. Dora's town is being taken over by a new kind of plant, which she has an affinity for, while at the same time she is trying to leave her controlling husband. Opalears is a slave who has been sent on a journey with the Prince to the mysterious St Weel because an Evil Thing, the Great Enigma, is threaten ...more
May 25, 2009 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was freaking awesome. At first I was puzzled by the storylines--they seemed like they had NOTHING in common, but then they collided in a magnificent way. The characters were rather endearing, and the story? I found it to be rather hopeful in the end.
Mar 12, 2010 Myridian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, environment
I both dread and look forward to the day when I have read all of Tepper’s books. This has to be one of her best, despite it having been published over ten years ago. In this book, Tepper pairs two stories which, at first, at confusingly intertwined. Of course the relationship between these two tracks becomes clear as the book advances. The first is about Dora who is living in present day in a loveless marriage that is suddenly broken up when a weed invades the routine of her life. The second fol ...more
Aug 27, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I really enjoyed this book. But it's hard to write a review that doesn't spoil it. In the beginning the author moves between two worlds. The modern earth timeline I found the most interesting and the storylines moved along quicky. In contrast the other timeline had a lot of new characters (and countries) to get to know and it tended to get a little bogged down. But right in the middle of the novel everything collides together in a way that had me laughing out loud. And from then on the book was ...more
Susan Hughes
Feb 26, 2009 Susan Hughes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that made me love this one and only science fiction author. It is like a beautiful set of nesting boxes. Each new treasure opened makes you gasp at what is revealed.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Donni Hakanson
Jan 12, 2011 Donni Hakanson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sheri Tepper would have to be my favourite multi-published author overall. A prolific writer, her imaginative and diverse books cover ethical, environmental, social and even metaphysical issues. These themes can address anything from race, feminist/sexist power plays, ethics, virtues and archetypes / symbols, consciousness,and many more!

Tepper shines in the realm of fantasy/sci-fi. Her books, to a large degree, are fairly predictable in that you know you will be drawn in and lose yourself totall
Mar 24, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
V. Briceland
Oct 24, 2013 V. Briceland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those who find Sheri S. Tepper's authorial preoccupation with eco-feminist issues humorless, The Family Tree is likely to be a revelation. The twin stories intertwined here—one a kitchen-sink detective story set in the present day, and the other an exotic tale of multiple tribespeople on an adventure to save the world—both sparkle with a sly jocularity not seen since Tepper's earliest novels. The moment when the two stories converge is simply magical; the first time I read it, I sat up in my ...more
Feb 28, 2014 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read-soon
I guess I didn't hear the "preachy" other people found. Why read a book if you're not interested in someone else's opinions? Or perhaps it's the subject and content of the preaching that makes people uncomfortable--she asks questions people STILL don't want to look at.

Anyway, I love her. Can't wait to get back to her and read more.
Oct 18, 2012 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kids: don't try this at home!

Tepper is the grand master of the literary surprise. I remember when I first read "Grass", and about a third of the way into the book, she suddenly turned all the readers' preconceptions on their side. The aristocrats weren't what you thought they were. The hunt wasn't what you thought it was. And the aliens definitely weren't what you thought they were either.

In this one she pulls a trick of epic proportions. About two thirds of the way in, she yanks the rug out fro
Nov 23, 2008 Maurean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as part of the ABC Author challenge, as this was my first read of Tepper, and I must say, I was pleasantly swept up in the fantasy-world she created, and her interesting and comical allegories. While her political view sometimes comes out a bit strong, she has a wonderful delivery of those ideas; one that, no matter your political stripe, the story and message resound. And, just as I thought I had the story figured out, another twist in the plot lead me in another ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to comment on without giving anything away - and if you read other peoples reviews and views you will see they too struggle. There are however two story lines here and yes they are most certainly interwoven - reading this book reminds me so much of 12 Monkeys or is it just me. However for an author known for her stereotypes I find the book contains a fair and balanced mix. I will put my hand up and admit that I have not read much by her - however I did enjoy this and look for ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Family Tree by Sheri Tepper is a book that is difficult to categorize. It is part post-plague apocalyptical tale, part romance, part fantasy/sci-fi, part eco-treatise, and partly confusing! At the same time, it was fascinating, well written, believable, immersive, and completely unique. Firstly, the confusing part: the story is written part current times, part future; in addition, the story is told by a number of different narrators (from both the past and the future) in alternating chapters ...more
Michael Battaglia
Another day, another novel where a plague wiping out a good portion of humanity is presented as a good thing, to the point where a guest appearance by Batman villain Ra's Al Ghul wouldn't feel completely out of place.

This one is the usual mix of Tepper Topics, this time for whatever reason leaving out the swipes at organized religion (don't be too disappointed, the usual nature centered religious types appear and come across as fairly decent if eccentric types, although you may not like them too
Sep 06, 2011 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This one was great up until the end, which in a magnificent twist, turned the whole (otherwise completely readable) novel into a really ridiculous treatise on how humans suck, animals are not only awesome but sentient, and how we need to stop destroying the earth. I love Tepper's books, but sometimes her political leanings are a little too obvious, and that was the case here, to the detriment of the book.
Jul 12, 2015 Bibliophile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read much science fiction, so I'm kind of clueless when trying to pick out something to read from that genre. I did due diligence on Sheri Tepper only after reading the first few chapters of The Family Tree. Luckily by then I was caught up in the story. Had I known about her preposterous convictions, I would never have picked it up. Read that chilling Strange Horizons interview if you don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm not very good at separating the author from their work (which is
Jan 13, 2009 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story about a group of time travelers from a dystopian future attempting to recover a messiah figure from the distant past, from the time just before the start of the current plight. An excellent Tepper book.
Feb 27, 2014 Jacob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on a recommendation from my wife and I struggled to get through the first half (about 250 pages), but kept reading because she said it was worth it. The book is made up of two stories that eventually come together in a way that was shocking (and gratifying), but unfortunately Tepper takes over 300 pages to get to the meat of the story. Although the last third of the book is quite satisfying in its conclusion, it simply takes too long to get there and without someone else telling me i ...more
Jul 27, 2015 Barbm1020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonathan Miller
I think that there is no author that I quit more often for being too preachy than Tepper. She is a good writer, she is great at imagining worlds. I am often interested in picking up her books.

I don't know if I have any listed as being read, although I have read some (and have stopped reading some too).

This one I stopped reading because the characters in the current era seemed too non-realistic and it kept jarring with my immersion. I do better with preachiness with it is for some weird world whe
Jun 26, 2015 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat Cummings
Mar 16, 2015 Pat Cummings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Dora Henry has problems in her personal life; her nominal marriage to the cold, unemotional Jared Gerber is at an end, but she fears the consequences of leaving him. She has problems in her professional life; investigating the murder of a single local scientist, the policewoman has discovered what may be a string of related homicides. And she has a problem in her garden. A persistent weed puts her husband in the hospital, and launches Dora into a brand new life.

Sheri Tepper’s The Family Tree s
Jun 02, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This story was very interesting. At the beginning, we meet Dora, a police officer, who is married to Jared, who is emotionally distant and very exacting in his expectations of her behavior. A weed appears in a crack by their garage, and despite Jared dousing it with weed killer, it only gets bigger over the next day or so, and when Jared tries to pull it out, he's stung by the plant and put in the hospital. More happens, but I won't go into it. Then in the second chapter, the view shifts entirel ...more
Apr 11, 2013 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The advent of a strange, new weed and the unexplained murders of three scientists set police officer Dora on a particularly strange case--one which may presage the end of life as she knows it. The Family Tree is a bizarre blend of humorous and didactic: its tone is absurdist and its plot is contrived, predictable, and effectively hilarious in the moment of its big reveal, but the environmental message is preachy at best--and near the end of the book, delivered in literal speeches. Combined with ...more
May 13, 2015 Max rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can get past the politics of the book it's a fairly decent fantasy story with a really well executed twist in the middle. Some of the plot elements stretch credibility to breaking point which made it rather hard to get on with for me. The main antagonist of the book is also dealt with in a surprisingly perfunctory way, and there is a lot of inconsequential mucking around rescuing animals towards the end that drags on a bit.
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Sheri Stewart Tepper is a prolific American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she is particularly known as a feminist science fiction writer, often with an ecofeminist slant.

Born near Littleton, Colorado, for most of her career (1962-1986) she worked for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, where she eventually became Executive Director. She has two children and is married to Gen
More about Sheri S. Tepper...

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“I think... girls have a hard time being interesting. It’s actually easier to be famous, or notorious, than it is to be interesting. In our world, girls climb very well until they hit puberty-sexual maturity-and then they begin to fall out of the tree. They start role-playing instead of thinking, flirting instead of learning. They start admiring how smart the boys are-or how athletic or how handsome-instead of concentrating on their own intelligence.” 13 likes
“Do you realize it’s been only a century that we’ve been able to go from house to car to office to car to wherever, with the heater on, and the defroster on, protected from the rain and the cold? It hasn’t been much longer than that we’ve had lighting for streets. Think of all that darkness, all that world out there, all that mystery that we’ve turned into well-lighted concrete bunkers, safe and warm and dull.” 10 likes
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