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The Killing Tree

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  271 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
It's the summer after Mercy Heron graduates from high school, and she's living in the household of her domineering grandfather and a grandmother whose behavior has always been erratic--some folks even call it crazy. They've raised Mercy since her mother died giving birth to her under the June apple tree, after Father Heron locked her out and ignored her pleas for help.
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Published March 18th 2009 by Center Street (first published 2009)
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Aug 28, 2009 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times I got a bit fustrated at the dialouge but I enjoyed the tale enough to give it 4 stars. It was a good read and I'm one that doesn't always like a perfect ending, (since life isn't like that), so this book suited me just fine. Also I love first time makes my heart sing when one does a good job.
Jul 26, 2010 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
I have been thinking of the words I would use to describe this book since I finished reading it late last night. For some reason, I can't seem to formulate a description. Each character kept me up for different reasons: the cold, domineering grandfather kept me up as I wondered how anyone could be that cruel to his own blood. The aloof, free spirited grandmother kept me up as I wondered how she could allow so much sadness to happen under her watch. Teenage Mercy kept me up as I thought about her ...more
Jan 23, 2010 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good book by a first time author. Set in the mountains of Virginia, it is the story of Mercy Heron, her Grandfather, grandmother and her friend Della. Mercy's mother ran away from home with a man,came back pregnant, and her father (Mercy's grandfather) would not allow her back into his house. Mercy was born under a tree in the backyard, and her mother died from the complications of her birth. This event is something that haunts the whole family. Mercy repeats the event when she runs of ...more
Bobbie  Crawford
The Killing Tree: A Novel
Written By: Rachel Keener
Published By: Center Street a division of Hachette Book Group Inc.
Date: 2009
Pages: 327 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1599951119

The Killing Tree's title alone is enough to pique ones curiosity. As I began reading the story I was immediately drawn into Mercy's emotional struggle and felt very strongly towards many characters whose lives impacted the teen-aged girl in a negative way. Mercy's Grandfather in particular, is a real (insert curse
Mar 10, 2009 Eve marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From a good friend of mine:

"Hi Everyone,
I so rarely recommend books, but there's a book being published this month which I absolutely love, and which I want to give my highest recommendation to -

Rachel Keener's The Killing Tree

Here's the link to the book on B&N:

Here's the link to it on Amazon:

It's this beautiful, beautiful story about this girl (well, she's 18), in Appalachia, who falls in love with a migrant worker - and ab
Sep 28, 2009 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first novel by this author. I picked it up on the "new"
book row at the library. I don't remember reading an entire book in 24
hours in a long time. I did read for three hours in bed that night.
It was a simple story of a Kentucky mountain girl who had just finished
high school and worked in the local diner while living with her grand-
parents who had raised her. Publisher's Weekly: The novel succeeds in bringing to life a slice of mountain life where old and new, foreign and native, rea
Aug 04, 2009 Christen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christen by: won from ReadingGroupGuides
Shelves: discussion-books
I really enjoyed this book. It is always interesting to read about cultures and people you do not know a lot about. This book is set in an isolated mountain community and tells the story of one girl's struggle to either fit in or leave the only place she's ever known. While reading this book, I pictured the final home in the book, "The Glass Castle," set deep in the mountains in coal-country.

The author did a great job with the characters; although they were each unique, I could identify with eac
Dec 23, 2010 Vivian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Keener's writing has put a spell on me. I read her second novel, The Memory Thief, first and was bowled over by how wonderful it was. I've even put it on my best reads of 2010 list. When I closed the pages of her debut novel, I was equally as thrilled and surprised. It is a beautiful and wonderful story that is at turns hopeful and achingly sad. The writing is terrific, so vivid that I felt transported to Crooktop Mountain. A coming of age story that is hard to put down. Mercy's story wil ...more
Apr 26, 2009 Wanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
I won this book right here on Goodreads in the giveaway section. It is a story about 18 year old Mercy Heron who has been raised by her grandparents when her mother dies giving birth to her under an apple tree under dubious circumstances. When I was done the story, I was yearning to know more, and it is my hope that a second book will follow up ~ I am so curious as to what the future holds for Mercy...what happens to Trout? Will they ever get the chance to be together...and Della DeMar ~ I reall ...more
May 20, 2009 Tamiko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I don't think it warranted a full 5 stars. I wish I could give it 4 1/2 but since that is not an option, I rounded up. I tend to give high scores to books that I can't seem to put down and this was one of those. It pulled you into the world of Crooktop with it's imagery. Parts of it were hard for me to relate too (borderline unbelievable or too much fantasy) and maybe that's where I had the slight disconnect. It also left me wanting to know more about the fate of the ke ...more
Feb 17, 2010 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed reading "The Killing Tree" by Rachel Keener.
I actually won this book from a ReadingGroupGuides give away.
It's the story of an 18 year old mountain girl who is being raised by her grandparents after the death of her mother during child birth. Mercy and the people of Crooked Top Mountain just come alive through the vivid descriptions. You are immediately drawn in and made a part of the scene.
It's an emotional book of survival.
It was beautifully written and leaves you wanting m
May 20, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book about a mountain girl with a domineering grandfather. Her mother died after being cruelly cast out by her grandfather for running off and getting pregnant with a man he didn't approve of, but Mercy still can't help but fall for a poor migrant worker on the mountain. When her grandfather finds out, he'll do anything to make her atone for her sin, and she'll do anything to stay with her love. The ending left an important detail up in the air and therefore wasn't as satisfy ...more
Apr 03, 2014 Rosie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok book. Easy read but not much of a page turner
I loved Keener's setting in the Appalachian region and the way the author inter-weaved the characters into the physical setting. Her descriptive writing encouraged me to re-read several paragraphs in order to comprehend the full meaning. I also appreciated the effort Keener took to show how manipulative Father Heron could be, not just in the physical sense, but on Mercy's mental state as well. I was a little lost with the open ending, but it also left me with hope for the characters, so in that ...more
Jul 08, 2012 KathyJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. A wonderful debut effort by Keener, set on Crooked Top Mountain in the Appalachians. The protagonist is Mercy Heron, whose mother died during Mercy's birth. Mercy is raised by her authoritarian, Bible-thumping grandfather and grandmother. She befriends, then falls in love with a migrant worker named Trout, finding tenderness and caring for the first time in her life, but leading to further estrangement from her grandparents. Wonderful charater development, suspenseful story line ... hi ...more
Apr 16, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Keener's 'The Killing Tree' is one of those novels that you just can't put down! Mercy, the main character, and the people of Crooked Top Mountain are true to the life of Appalachia, and allow the reader to feel and experience the beauty, the harshness, and uniqueness of the mountains. It is a story written with depth, heart, and courage, that the reader will not soon forget. My hope is that Keener will continue Mercy's story in a future novel. She definitely leaves the reader wanting mor ...more
Deann Doolittle
Apr 27, 2013 Deann Doolittle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I liked this book but I thought it was sad. Sad in that fact that people are so prejudice against other people, sad that people have to live in such poverty and work so hard to just get by, sad that family isn't there to help out family. While this is a fictional novel most of the facts in there can be seen as true. Good news is that good friends are always there for you in your time of need. Whereas I was hoping for a different ending, I found myself rooting for Naomi and wishing her the best.
Aug 11, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you novels wrapped up in the end, then this isn't the novel for you as it is pretty ambiguous (perhaps the author is an english teacher). The characters were very interesting and different to me. Mercy grows up in the mountains of Virgina, super poor with her strict Grandpa and crazy Grandma. She's repeats her mother's fate by falling in love & getting pregnant by a migrant worker, but her strong will helps her overcome. I liked it because it's different from anything I've read in a while ...more
Kim Faires
Just not my cup of tea.
Jul 27, 2009 Candy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The review by Terry Kay on the back of the book appropriately describes the book. She said: "I has beenyears since I've read a book as profoundly dramatic in its examination of survival as Rachel' Keelner's The Killing Tree. This is a story of the magic and the meanness of Southern mountain people. In one way or another I have known each of them, and Rachel Keener knows them also. Her writing in this debut novel is wonderful." I AGREE!@
Apr 08, 2009 Lora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very fast read for me. I couldn't put it down. I knew going into it that it would probably remind me of home but when I got to Mercy talking about Magic Mart, boy did it ever. It was as if I had stepped into the book myself and was following her around. I was a little surprised with the ending but it did keep me on my toes. I'd have to say this is probably the best book I've read in a long while.
Pamela Cable
May 19, 2012 Pamela Cable rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic story set deep in Appalachia. Crooked Top Mountain is a place all too familiar to me. Written with heart and hope, Keener draws the reader in and holds them in the palm of her hand. I love the way she weaves the story in and out of such utter sadness, but satisfies us with a great ending. Mercy, Della, Mamma Rutha, Trout, I swear I've known these people. Great job, Rachel Keener!
Nicole Fraser
Jun 05, 2013 Nicole Fraser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of this novel's main characters, Mamma Rutha, is called The Song Lady - but author Rachel Keener is a real-life Song Lady -- The Killing Tree is a song-story that shakes the roots of my own shame and anguish, and gives quiet wings to hope. This book is breathtaking and should have won major awards. Its message: Whatever we've suffered, it is never too late, and every life does matter
....a very light and fast read.....good and quick story line with a great girlfriend relationship....ending wasn't predictable, in fact took me by surprise, which is nice....
some areas of the book were a little hokey, but sold off with a little humor.
Not typical of something I would personally read, it was our neighborhood book club pick, but I'm glad to add it to my library.
May 16, 2010 Dianne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well that was a weird one. A good one, but a weird one. It's kind of a cross between Cold Mountain and the sequel to Gone with the Wind. It goes out there a bit. The story is engaging and the characaters are , and there's just enough uncertainty to keep you off kilter, which makes for good reading. A Book Club book, I'm glad it was chosen, I would have never found it.
Kathy Sutton
Apr 07, 2009 Kathy Sutton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The protagonist Mercy captures your heart immediately. Keener succeeds in portraying the anguish of life in the back woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains so well that you feel instantly drawn into the world she creates. The hypnotic style of her writing draws you into the beauty and drama of life's harshest lessons. It is a tale of survival and growth.
Feb 05, 2013 Ulm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book about a girl in a small mountain town who meets a boy and tries to get away from her controlling grand father. It would have been nice if the author added a few more pages to the book and told us what happened to Trout and if Mercy and he meet again. But I guess that is what sequels are for!
Mar 12, 2009 Yvette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent. The author's language is so vivid. Her descriptions of the mountains, the valley, love, and hate put you on Crooktop Mountain. As a reader you don't just follow along with the main character's (Mercy) walk right next to her.
Feb 20, 2011 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway, and really enjoyed it. Most of all I like the author's style of writing. The characters were interesting, and I especially enjoyed reading about the grandmother. It kept me interested all the way through. I'd recommend it.
May 18, 2009 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book on Goodreads' giveaway section and was happy to read it. The story was captivating and it was a pretty quick read. It also didn't go where I predicted it was going too, which was good, b/c my prediction would've been something I'd seen before.

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