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The Crying Tree

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,823 ratings  ·  672 reviews
Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they ...more
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Broadway Books/Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  3,823 ratings  ·  672 reviews

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Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Any book that I stay up reading until 2 a.m. deserves five stars. I hadn't done that since Harry Potter 7 came out...and I had jet lag then because we were in Hawaii.

I heard Rakha being interviewed on NPR and knew I had to read her book. A broadcast journalist for "All Things Considered" and an Oregonian, she covered the first execution in Oregon for 30 years, and the seed of this book was planted.

I'm fascinated by the themes of deep forgiveness and grace, perhaps because I wonder whether I woul
Mar 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
A novel about a mother's journey from hatred to forgiveness of her son's murderer is a good idea. However, if that novel is weighed down by stereotypes and one-note characters, it becomes really hard to get through. For example, Rakha paints all her conservative characters as uneducated bigots. In case the reader cannot figure that out on her own, the author makes sure any character that likes President Bush or is for the war uses broken English and calls his or her parents "ma" and "pa". On the ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was written by a journalist after she covered the first execution in Oregon in 30 years. It was the result of her interviews with death-row inmates, their victims and those hired to carry out their sentences. The theme of the book is forgiveness, which is no small thing for any author, or any human being for that matter, to tackle. The story is well written and thought out. The character development is excellent, and there is a sub-story that weaves smoothly into the thread of the main ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. I cried, I questioned my parenting, my beliefs, my feelings, my integrity - everything I thought I knew about capital punishment, parenting, America was turned on its head.

It took me a few chapters to get in to the book and I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it but after the first 100 pages I was gripped. Some bits are predictable, some bit you think are predictable really aren't what you think. Lots of thinks left unanswered but they don't need an answer!

I had to keep reminding myse
Lydia Presley
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"You ever done that? Forgiven someone even thought they don't deserve it?"

"No," Mason said. "No, I've never done that."

"Well, I got to say, it fills you. Whether you want it to or not, that kind of thing, it just fills you. It's like pain and grace all tied up in one."

That's what this book was to me, pain and grace all tied up in one. Putting aside all of the political aspects it touched on (the war in Iraq, homosexuality, the death penalty) it pretty much transcended above these things and spok
Erin Caldwell
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I didn't predict the plot correctly - always a plus - and there was so much to think about. I liked the characters and the writing was phenomenal; you could feel the various emotions each character endured and empathize with everyone's position. The Crying Tree reminded me of the Green Mile, but expanded further on the topic of capital punishment, as well as addressing homosexuality, abuse, prejudice... excellent read!
Aug 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
Obnoxious. I guess I liked the overall concept of this book, but I thought the dialog and characters were terrible, stereotyped and just not believable. The other thing that really bothered me was how the author's main objective seemed to be to hit you over the head with her world view, in particular:

- Christians are hypocritical and ignorant
- Conservatives are stupid and evil

It didn't surprise me that this author works for NPR. I also thought it was strange how often the characters "wiped their
Kevin Ansbro
A valiant effort, but didn't engage me.
And the dialogue... oh, dear... not plausible.
I can see how some people would love this story, it just wasn't for me.
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Even though I have alredy sent this, I am updating for my Best of 2009 list:

Unbeknownst to her family, Irene starts corresponding with her son’s murderer waiting on death row and is devastated when notified of an execution date even though the rest of the family is ecstatic. This is an amazing first novel by a Silverton, Oregon author and perfect for book groups.

More from previous review:
After a move from Illinois to central Oregon, Irene and Nate’s teen son, Shep, is killed by what appears to b
Barbara H
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Naseem Rakha has written a sad, wrenching tale of a family's reaction to and subsequent dealing with the murder of their sixteen year old son and brother. She has skillfully delved into the emotional impact for each of them. Many surprising events evolve through the subsequent years in the telling of this story.

Although I enjoyed this book and was eager to discover how the story concluded, I thought that occasionally the plot could have moved along more smoothly.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
The Crying Tree is about what happens to a close knit family when their son Shep Stanley is shot and killed in their home during a botched burglary attempt. After his death, Irene (his mother), Nate (his father) and younger sister Bliss are forced to deal not only with Shep's death, but their feelings of hatred towards the person who supposedly shot him. This book is written mainly from Irene's viewpoint. Eventually, after a self-destructive phase, Irene comes to realize that the murderer is not ...more
Anna Langley
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was ok. just ok. I assume the author has some anti-christian agenda. it wasn't very well disguised. The pastor was a baddy and every time God was mentioned he was cold and vengeful.

I dont understand why Mason had the skin disease, frequently referenced but irrelevant to the plot. Unless theres a metaphor I'm missing?? The modern day parts of the book around Mason jarred with the rest of the book. They read like the trashy detective thrillers that are churned out.

The themes of grief and
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Naseem Rakha's the Crying Tree was one of those books that kept me up until 2am for two days in a row. The story is about a Midwestern family whose teenage boy has been killed. It is also about the demise of one's self, one’s family and the miraculous wonder of healing. To say this book is just about forgiveness is an bleak understatement, for me, reading this book was almost like watching a flower bloom, but instead of the opening petals came the unveiling of secrets, hidden pockets of grace, a ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, recommend
Excellent, well-written book about what happens to a family when their teenage son/brother is murdered in their home and the killer is sentenced to death. Told from the perspectives of the family members and the man tasked with carrying out the execution. The story is about grief, hatred, forgiveness, and the harm of keeping secrets. I read the last 10 pages through tears. Highly recommended.
Christina Rochester
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh I loved this. It's been a while since a book has made me cry and this one definitely did. I must say it was quite cathartic.

In this story we see a mother struggle to come to terms with her grief as her son is killed and we see her eventually find the strength to forgive her sons killer a decade later. But what does this hold when after nine years of correspondence with this man on death row, she recieves word that he is finally to be executed for his crime?

The Crying Tree is a beautiful, movi
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah the death penalty, a thing I don’t believe in exactly because there are people I would love to watch die for their crimes. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense except that I also understand that rights and wrongs are subjective, and therefore one man’s crime worthy of death to someone else, might be my line of mercy.
Naseem Rakha does a great, smoothly written and well plotted job of writing about these themes: the subjectiveness of “sin”.
What Nate, a small town war vet father of a teenage son
Shweta Grewal
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another awesome book about moral dilemma.. How long can you live hating someone? Can you forgive someone so that you can live, even if that person took the most important thing in your life?
The story of a mother who forgave her son's murderer. The story of person who found out the power of forgiveness after living with the bitterness of hate.
Deanne Wildsmith
Overall I enjoyed this book but thought there were quite a few things in the second half of the book that were unrealistic. As one reviewer said, why was there no mention of statutory rape once the circumstances of Shep's death became known?
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Fifteen-year-old Shep Stanley is shot and killed in what appears to be a home robbery. During the time of the shooting, it was believed that Irene and Nate, Shep's parents, and Bliss, Shep's sister were not home. Trying to find their way through the gut-wrenching grief leads each member of the family down a different path, coping with grief in their own ways.

Irene seems to have the most difficult time, almost becoming an alcoholic and a zombie, and not caring what goes on around her or what is
Jen C (ReadinginWBL)
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Title: The Crying Tree
Author: Naseem Rakha
Pages: 353 pages
Publisher: Broadway; First Edition edition (July 7, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0767931408

Book Description from Book: Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Never

What an absolutely fantastic book. I've found another one to add to my overall favourites/favourites of this year! Brilliant! I don't think any review of mine can do the book justice in all honesty but going to try my best!

Initial impressions
The crying tree is a page turner from page one, it was one of those books where I knew I was going to be hooked into it straight away. The pace never once relinquished its hold either, it moved perfectly, not too quickly, not too slowly...I knew early
Maggie Donaldson
Aug 20, 2011 rated it liked it
On the face of it, this is a good read - a well-crafted story with a few twists and turns that will keep you hooked. We need to invent a new genre for the books that chart a parent's (usually a mother's) devastation at losing a child, usually in violent circumstances. There is a rash of them, and they make for painful reading. This one is no exception, and the microscopic examination of the effect on the mother, her husband and her daughter, is very well handled. Rakha slowly reveals her charact ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm in fact giving this book a 3.5. As much as anything, this book is about change--change as time passes, changing of how we see, what we see and what we think we see, changes in our feelings as our vision adjusts, and so on. This book tells the story of Shep, shot to death at 15, his family, who cannot recover from this, and his convicted murderer who is about to be electrocuted after 19 years in prison, mostly on death row. Shep's mother, Irene, is the most emotionally available character in ...more
May 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own

Imagine yourself in the early 1970's. A time when bell bottoms, mini skirts and platform shoes ruled the fashion world. The birth of Aerosmith, Kiss and the Ramones took center stage in the music world. A time of political awakening. Now imagine yourself knowing nothing about this and living in an isolated town in Oregon. You are living what appears to be the American dream – married, two kids (one boy, one girl), etc.... But, then tragedy strikes and what you love most in the world is taken fro
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this in less than 48 hours, and when I wasn't actually reading it I was thinking it. There are a number of reviews already that give the bones of the storyline so I won't go there. It had everything for me. Abolition of the Death Penalty, which is very dear to my heart, forgiveness, addiction and recovery but it was the characters that I was fascinated by. They seemed well-rounded, with none that felt superfluous to the plot. The family dynamics, the secrets that each member carried with ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: free-review-copy
By the middle of the book, I began to enjoy the story because I had a sense of where it might be going. It wasn't until I saw the "procedures" through Tab Mason's eyes, that I felt what the author was trying to express about capital punishment. She humanized a process that many avoid thinking about.

The story was very compelling and yet I had a difficult time reading it. While I became deeply interested in the stories of a handful of secondary characters who were fleshed out halfway through the
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
In The Crying Tree Naseem Rakha tells the story of a family destroyed by tragedy and fueled by emotion and vengeance, a mother, father and daughter trying desperately to find a way to live beyond their loss, and failing miserably. Individual grief makes them strangers to one another, allowing secrets to lie dormant for years and forcing each to live alone within the family unit.

When the killer's execution is finally scheduled, Irene is faced with emotions she never expected - she hated this man
May 30, 2009 rated it liked it
The Crying Tree is about what happens to a family when their son dies in a horrible accident. Teenager Shep Stanley is shot and killed in his own home during a botched burglary attempt. After his death, his parents and younger sister Bliss are forced to deal not only with Shep's death, but their feelings of hatred towards the person who shot him. Eventually, they come to realize that the murderer is not what he seems, and has some secrets of his own that will impact the family forever.

I thought
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
My first Goodreads win - looking forward to reading it.

The Crying Tree is an emotionally powerful book. The tragedy of a son's death is a wrecking ball that tears down the structure and being of a family, a mother, father, and daughter. The rebuilding of these lives leads the reader down jagged and twisting paths as the mother, the most fully developed character, gains internal strength and stability from an unexpected source. I had an increasingly difficult time with what seemed to be a lack of
Theresa Sivelle
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book and story. I understand the need to forgive and I thought the book did a great job in showing how important and hard that is. It is a powerful thing that you do for yourself, not for the one who caused the harm. I also believe that it is a process that everyone has to go through in their own way and time. Those that don't get to the forgiving part, I think are destined to an unhappy existence that can be both mentally and physically unhealthy. I have to say that I loved all ...more
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Naseem is an award winning author and journalist whose stories have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Her best selling novel The Crying Tree is a winner of the 2010 PNBA Book Award and recent Richard and Judy Book Club pick.

Naseem is interested in stories that have spur discussion and interest in critical social issues.

Naseem is represented by Markson Thoma Literary A

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Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
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“It had been so beautiful. Life had been so simple and so terribly beautiful.” 8 likes
“Maybe a family is linked in ways we have no way to understand. Some unseen, cellular connection that binds us past and present. If so, perhaps when my brother died, those cells we shared died as well. And for us, that would have been the heart. Those fine, fragile walls that let us embrace life with fearlessness and faith. We suffer because our heart is dying, one small cell at a time.” 8 likes
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