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The Tin Can Tree

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  2,290 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
When young Jamie Pike dies in a tragic accident, she leaves behind a family numbed with grief and torn with guilt and recrimination. In this compassionate and haunting novel Anne Tyler explores how each member of the family learns to face the future in their own way.
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Published November 5th 1987 by Random House (first published 1965)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Patricia
Dec 05, 2011 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
...more
joyinbooks
3.5*
Murray
Aug 18, 2014 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
Candace
Jan 06, 2014 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
...more
Laurie
Apr 13, 2012 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
...more
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
Ann
Jul 09, 2012 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.
Judy
Feb 20, 2009 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.
Rose
Sep 08, 2011 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.”
Barbara
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical Tyler...I came away uplifted by the ordinary...
Susan
This was read in my great Read-Everything-Anne-Tyler-Ever-Wrote quest.
Wendy
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit slow going. Strong characters.
Anthony
Sep 07, 2012 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
...more
Mary
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Karl Marx S.T.
Jun 01, 2012 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
Molly
Jan 03, 2013 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.
Carmen
Mar 19, 2008 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
Kate
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too may characters for my liking. Beautiful dialogue and typical small town gossip.
Konstantin
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: serious
[rating = B]
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
...more
Diane
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
Marilyn
May 30, 2011 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
Thais
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il punto di forza dei romanzi di Anne Tyler non è mai la trama. E questo non fa eccezione: non succede praticamente niente. L'autrice racconta di come i vari personaggi interagiscono fra loro, affrontando la realtà e riprendosi dopo la morte della piccola Janie Rose, di soli sei anni. Tutto qui.
Ma lo fa in un modo talmente delicato e "umano" che non si può non sentirsi vicini a questi personaggi così teneri, realistici e buffi nella loro quotidianità, nel loro imbarazzo, con le loro piccole mani
...more
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
Kellie
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodread-2012
I like this book. This was my second book I read of Anne Tyler, the first being "If Morning will ever comes," I like "The Tin Can Tree" better. The plot of this book kept my interest,though there was sadness and not much of a plot, more like going through everyday life. I like Anne Tyler books there different from other books I've read before, it's the way she writes that make me feel like I know the characters in her book,like I'm right there with them. If feel like I am just in another life fo ...more
Snoakes
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find it hard to review Anne Tyler's books - they're brilliant, but it's really difficult to pin-point why.
This one is an early one, and like most of her novels it's a snapshot in the lives of a small group of people - not all family, but they are a close-knit community, almost an extended family. As ever, it's the characters that suck you in and keep you hooked. There's not a lot of plot - a child has died and we meet the protagonists at her funeral, and the remainder of the book quietly explo
...more
Diana
Come sempre adoro la sua scrittura, il suo modo leggero eppur intenso di narrare le storie, ma questa volta non sono riuscita a godermelo del tutto.
Esistono davvero persone che parlano in questo modo? Con dialoghi così forzati e innaturali, fatti di spizzichi e bocconi, che non portano mai davvero da nessuna parte, con tutte queste pause e silenzi "carichi di significato"?
In più purtroppo sono rimasta abbastanza delusa dal finale, un po' troppo aperto, un po' troppo sospeso per i miei gusti. Pe
...more
Samm Seals
this is a strange bunch of people ....that said, everyone deals with the death of a vibrant six year old girl in a deeply personal way. I just want to get in there and straighten everyone out. the very small things in the story where the characters were moving through the story seemed pretty strange and make me wonder how much of those tiny elements were personal to the author....I haven't found many of them in other fictions.
Anne
Feb 12, 2015 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.
Emily
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! The characters in the story are so quirky and interesting and made an otherwise sad story actually delightful to read. I especially loved chapter 5 where the female characters are working in the tobacco fields. Their dialoge was fantastic and I loved it so much that I re-read the chapter twice. I hear that Anne Tyler is famous for her quirky characters, which prompted me to order several other titles by her.
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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.” 24 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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