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The Tin Can Tree

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,358 Ratings  ·  101 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
Paperback, 264 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1965)
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The Accidental Tourist by Anne TylerLadder of Years by Anne TylerDinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne TylerBreathing Lessons by Anne TylerThe Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Best of Anne Tyler
46 books — 23 voters
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I hate it
69 books — 17 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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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 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Bravest thing about people, Miss Joan, is how they go on loving mortal beings after finding out there's such a thing as dying."
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aug 18, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Anne Tyler; fans of first novels by distinguished writers
Shelves: chronic-illness
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
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.”
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Typical Tyler...I came away uplifted by the ordinary...
Feb 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This was read in my great Read-Everything-Anne-Tyler-Ever-Wrote quest.
Samantha Glennerster
I read that Anne Tyler wanted to disown this book later on in her career. I wouldn’t go that far but I can see why she might think that. Whilst it is still a good read, totally character driven as always, it is not quite on the same level as her later work. Also it seems weird to read an Anne Tyler book that isn’t set in Baltimore!
Anton Segers
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Eén van de eerste romans van Anne Tyler: een schets van het familieleven op de buiten in het zuiden.
Je voelt al wel haar talent om personages te schetsen met subtiel gesuggereerde verborgen emoties, innig mooie momentjes, maar soms ook wat te veel bla bla naast de kwestie.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit slow going. Strong characters.
Leah Wood
Jan 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
I typically like this author, but this book was extremely boring ....
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Way too slow. And unsatisfying. Tyler doesn't give much background to the child's death that is the center of the story.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Slow moving and dull with characters that just existed.
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
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.
Karl Marx S.T.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kindle-fire
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Too may characters for my liking. Beautiful dialogue and typical small town gossip.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
May 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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
Linda Davidson
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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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. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964)

The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was a
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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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