Annalisa's Reviews > The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
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's review
Feb 12, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: childrens, classics
Read in January, 1980

I'm torn about this book. Service and sacrifice are wonderful messages. However, the combination of ingratitude and martyrdom always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. We should serve those we love (and even those we don't), but feeling like a doormat is never the answer. It didn't make me feel better about indulging others, only worse.

I'm sure there are a lot of interpretations one could make from the story. What I think about most is the correlation to parenting where much of what you do goes unnoticed, demanded, and unappreciated and yet you love your children enough to give them your all anyway and enjoy watching them grow and experience life. But it doesn't sit quite right. I don't think any parent should indulge their children to their own detriment and they need to rejuvenate themselves instead of exasperating their own wells for their children. A parent who holds back a little, teaches their children tough lessons, and can therefore be there for their children in the long run is a much better parent. Honestly, the book makes me feel guilty for being a child who didn't appreciate the sacrifices of my parents and guilty for not being able to always give everything to my child.

But I think that may be the point. I think the book is supposed to make you think about this kind of sacrifice and what it does to both you and the person taking from you. I'm not sure that it's condoning it, but I'm not sure that message comes through either.

So I'm torn. I love the symbolism and the thoughts this story evokes, but I don't like the message it sends to kids that this time of sacrifice is good. Torn right between 5 stars and 1 at a non-committal 3 stars.
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