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The Language of Trees

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Echo O'Connell knows that the summer holds its secrets. They are whispered in the rustling trees, in the lush scent of the lilacs, in the flurry of the mayflies batting against the screen door, and in the restless spirits that seem to clamor in the scant breezes on hot evenings. It is in summer that she returns home to Canandaigua, to confront these spirits, both living and not, and to share a secret with her first love, Grant Shongo—a secret that will forever change the lives of many people in the town and put to rest the mysterious disappearance of a little boy more than a decade earlier.

Grant, a descendant of the Seneca Indians who call this place "The Chosen Spot," has also come back to face his past. After a broken marriage, he has moved into his childhood home, a lake house that has withstood happiness and tragedy. He knows the spirits of the past must be dealt with—that of the little boy who disappeared all those years ago; the boy's sister, who never overcame the loss; and the love Grant still has for Echo. But before the healing must come the forgiveness.

368 pages, Paperback

First published July 20, 2010

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About the author

Ilie Ruby

3 books110 followers
The Salt God's Daughter takes place in the seaside community of Long Beach, CA, where I was a teacher over two decades ago. I adored this community, and never quite forgot the enchanted landscape dotted with luminous floating "islands," which were disguised to mask oil rigs along the coastline. Years later, as I began to write a modern-day folktale about the selkies, shape-shifters that are men on land and seals in the water, the setting of Long Beach began to emerge. The history of this beloved place became the bedrock of a multi-generational love story.

My first novel, The Language of Trees takes place in a magical part of Upstate New York where I spent my childhood summers--Canandaigua Lake. Located in an area the Seneca Indians call The Chosen Spot, the lake is the source of local legends, Native American folklore, as well as restless spirits, both living and not.

I have always thought of books as treasures. Most book reviews I write are unapologetically given 4 or 5 stars. That's because life is too short to finish a book I don't love, and I'd never, ever review a book I hadn't finished. Secondly, I feel much more comfortable recommending works I admire than I do criticizing things I don't.

My articles have appeared in the New York Times Motherlode, and ParentDish, among others. Updated events are found on my website: -Website www.ilieruby.com
-Twitter @ilieruby
-Facebook Ilie on Facebook

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5 stars
199 (22%)
4 stars
300 (34%)
3 stars
256 (29%)
2 stars
94 (10%)
1 star
27 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 190 reviews
Profile Image for Lisette Brodey.
Author 16 books239 followers
May 7, 2011
Author Ilie Ruby’s rich portrait of the people of Canandaigua Lake, their secrets, their histories, their unrequited passions, their losses, and their quest for second chances, all come together stunningly in The Language of Trees.

Written in gorgeous poetic prose, this novel opens with a tragedy that draws the reader into the lives of Ruby’s multi-dimensional, disparate, and believable characters. The author’s knowledge of the area of Canandaigua, the folklore of the Seneca Indians, is so real, that throughout the book, I felt as if I were standing invisible among the people of Canandaigua, watching myriad stories unfold around me.

This is an author who cannot only write, but also who deeply understands the human spirit — what threatens it, what kills it, and what heals it. The story flows beautifully as the present and past lives of her character’s fight for their rightful place.

As Echo O’Connell reunites with her first love, Grant Shongo, who she has not seen since she was seventeen, there is much to sort out. Secrets and spirits float through the air and every character has their pain, their regret, and their unique need for forgiveness. The Language of Trees is a truly magical story.
Profile Image for Alison.
450 reviews226 followers
July 30, 2010
I originally wrote the review for The Language of Trees two weeks ago, moments after I read the last page. For some reason, computer gnomes most likely, my review did not save, so here I am two weeks later...with a slightly different opinion. The gnomes did me a favor, they allowed me to step back and take a look at a book again. Unfortunately, I found The Language of Trees did not have staying power.

The first time around, I did enjoy this book and thought that it was a beautiful story with many of the Native American "magic" weaved throughout the story of this little town on Canandaigue Lake.

My biggest complaint about the book was that the words got in the way. The writing felt forced at times. There were some great ideas, but the too obvious "words of wisdom" were poorly positioned and didn't feel authentic. I had to wonder if the novel was over-edited, because at times there were passages that didn't flow, and were inconsistent where they were positioned.

There were times when the writing worked. It was as if Ilie Ruby was in the zone and her words spilled out of her effortlessly. Ms. Ruby must have been alone at her desk, in a quiet house when her imagination kicked in and she lost herself in her story. Again, it makes me wonder about the editing or rewrites. It makes me want to see the manuscript!

Some of my favorite moments in the book, had little sprinkles of Ilie Ruby's magical writing in it.

"Most beautiful thing is to see hope come back into a face."
"He thought her beautifully human."
"...she was gentle with the world but not afraid of it..."

I enjoyed the story of Grant and Echo, and the intertwining families of Canandaigua Lake. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Echo and Joseph - the only parent-child relationship in the whole story that is loving and functional, and it's also the only one that's not biological. The characters were alive, and the plot was interesting and magical, but I did not connect with the story enough for it to stick with me.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
57 reviews
January 3, 2012
This might be the best book I read all year. I picked it up because I saw that it was set in Canandaigua, which is not far from me, and I thought it would be cool to read something set locally. My only caution about it is that it is somewhat sentimental, but it was in a way that didn't irritate me the way a lot of sentimental books do. It was interesting to watch the mysteries unravel and see how the characters developed, and it left me wanting to hear more about them.
Profile Image for Brianna.
21 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2010
I would have to say that of all the books that I have read this year, this is probably my favourite, and for so many different reasons. I could go on and on and on about how much I love this book. The book has amazing reviews. When I was reading the beginning of this book, I can't say I was overly loving it, so I read some more reviews for inspiration,which I'm glad I did, because once I got a few chapters in, the story was just so captivating I couldn't set it down. It was full of secrets, mystery, romance, tears, and surprises. I love how in some way everyone is connected. I can't remember the last time I stayed up past my usual bed time to finish a book, but I just couldn't wait to figure out how it ended. Ilie Ruby is an amazing writer. The way she describes things, makes you really imagine. When one character is giving advice to another, she doesn't come right out and make them say it, they say it in a way that you really have to think about the advice they are giving. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about the story and couldn't wait to sit down and keep reading. There are so many more things I can say that I loved about this book, but I just can't explain it in words (I am clearly not an writer, haha).
Profile Image for Jennifer.
182 reviews9 followers
August 9, 2010
This summary only hints at what this book is about. This story is so much more. Yes, there is the mystery of how a little boy drowned in the lake, but in order to solve it each character in the story must reconcile their pasts with the person they have become.

The chapters are character oriented, and each and every character is complex. Although the story takes place in the present, as the events unfold, the characters relive or remember the events of the past. You learn about each character with these past events. These passages make you feel as though you are a bystander in the memory of the person who is relieving the moment. These moments are what made them, who and what they are today, in the present. Each character must forgive themselves for their past. Let it go. Accept what they are or have become and move forward. Otherwise, you are not living life as you should.

With respect to the mysterious past drowning and current disappearance, there are events in this book that I did not expect. I actually gasped out loud at times.

I hope this review does justice to this book. It was so not what I expected, and yet I enjoyed it so very much. Ruby's writing enthralled me. Between the plot, the characters, and the air of spiritualism lent by the Seneca Indian elements, Ruby grabbed me and never let me go. This book is not my normal genre, and I am so happy I took a chance and read it.
Profile Image for Laura de Leon.
1,058 reviews28 followers
October 24, 2013
A truly beautiful book! It almost made it to 5 stars, other than one issue that might well be a positive for other readers.

The characters were amazing. I enjoyed the variety, each with a strong personality, shaped by life experience.

Each character carried the past with them-- Melanie, her sister Maya, and her mother carried the death of Luke, the youngest of the three children. Melanie had finally seemed to put it behind her so she could get on with her life with her baby Lucas, and his father, Lion. When she disappears, it's blamed on her past with drugs, but Lion and Leila know better.

Grant and Echo are haunted by their past together, wondering if their relationship should have ended many years ago, or at least if it should have ended differently. Each has their individual burdens. Grant has a legacy from his father that he doesn't understand, and a broken marriage he hasn't come to terms with.

The paths of each of these characters have crossed in the past, and continue to do so in the book. As they come together to find what happened to Melanie, they learn about them selves as well.

The plot revolves around the search for Melanie. I was very intrigued by this aspect of the story, mostly for what it showed about the characters by the actions they took. Even with all of the characters in the book, the plot still took a clear, relatively logical path.

When I picked up this book to read, I'd forgotten that the description I'd read included "magical realism". This aspect of the story didn't really manifest until I'd been reading a while, and it took me by surprise. As the magical aspects permeated the story more and more, I appreciated how they helped build the web holding the book together. It was beautiful, internally consistent, and all together well done.

I had only one complaint about the book, and my complaint may well be someone else's favorite aspect of The Language of Trees. While I was reading, the writing pulled at me, asking me to look at it. I prefer the words to simply tell me the story. Every time I stopped to pay attention, I agreed that the words were beautifully written, but it wasn't until I realized the book is written in present tense that the words stopped calling me out of the story.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
689 reviews70 followers
July 31, 2010
I very much enjoyed this beautifully written debut novel. It reminds me a bit of Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein in that it deals with similar themes - the death of a child, the power of place - and interweaves Native mythology throughout the tale, although Ruby's novel is more lyrically written.

It is often the case in books about returning home that home is forever changed and vanished. In this book home is changed, but also subtly the same. The journey home is redemptive for everyone involved - almost everyone in this book is grabbing for a second chance, righting a wrong from their past, reconnecting with people they love and lost. It is so tempting for authors in this territory to focus on the tragedies - I very much admire Ms. Ruby for grabbing for the golden ring of happy endings (and doing it in an utterly believable way).

I loved the cast of characters in this book and loved how diverse they were. It's unusual to read a book that reflects the diversity I see around me every day and wonderful to see this in a way that isn't contrived. This book doesn't celebrate diversity as a plot device or political statement. Rather, it populates itself with the people it needs to tell its story. I particularly loved the character of Lion, the LA gangbanger and ex-drug addict wandered to the Finger Lakes to choose a different way of life. He is in many ways a minor character, but his journey resonated powerfully for me.

Beautifully written, wonderful characters, great story. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Joseph.
2 reviews2 followers
March 20, 2011
Ilie Ruby has crafted a magically moving novel composed of disparate elements: a tragic childhood death, a kidnapped woman, American Indian ghosts and spirits, wolves that interact with humans, unrequited love, and a parent's illness. The story is also populated with dysfunctional families; families fueled by shame and secrets - secrets that must be kept until they are divulged to save lives.

Two of the key characters are Grant Shongo and Echo O'Connell. Grant is a half-blooded Seneca with the ability to cure sick and wounded birds/animals. He's also a man who cannot cure himself. Then there's Echo, who feels that she is lost in her own life in spite of the fact that she's true to own values. Echo is the one person in the tale who is free, except that she's not aware of it. Except for her, the novel is populated with characters who are haunted by the past - literally and figuratively - as they search for peace and redemption.

The Language of Trees is written in a cinematic style. It begins slowly and it takes the reader some time to absorb all of the characters the issues that affect them. But what is initially calm builds to a highly dramatic and satisfying conclusion. The author leaves us with a life's lesson, which is that one must let go of the demons of the past in order to "not (be) afraid of the future anymore." Once the nightmares of the past have been left behind, we are free to soar like birds.

This novel has the power to transport the reader to a better place. It is nothing less than masterful and transformational. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Chris.
832 reviews24 followers
July 12, 2012
What a delight. Doused in Seneca healing wisdom and magic - this is about a bunch of lost and damaged people in a lake town in upstate NY - who are all connected by a tragic death of a young boy. Many years later - they are all brought back to the town and each others lives. Grant retreating to his "home" after his wife leaves him, Echo returning to her dying father. All of the characters have a bit of magic in them -- seeing ghosts, feeling things that can't be seen or explained (like knowing her father is in poor health from hundreds of miles away). And Grant can see the ghost of the young boy who died in the lake, and he can heal birds. Grant and Echo never got over their teenage love, but both have run from it their whole lives. Now when the eldest sister of the drowned boy goes missing, after getting her life back on track with the love of her life and a newborn son, everyone thinks she has once again relapsed to drugs. But Lion knows she has not, and Grant feels a connection to them all - seems to sense something deeper, and ultimately finds out who is father really was and how these people really are connected. There is a bit of a thriller mystery to this story, as the search for Melanie and the evil of her father is told. But it's also a story of magic, and trying to atone for the past.
Awesome book.
1 review196 followers
April 16, 2011
I adore this book. It's the touching love story of Grant Shongo, a descendant of the Seneca Indians, and Echo O’Connell, who both return to their childhood town, Canandaigua, NY. Grant moves back into his family’s house after his wife leaves him, and Echo returns to deal with spirits of the past and ends up sharing a secret with her first love, Grant, that will change both of them.

This book is haunting, I couldn’t put it down. As a writer, I’m so impressed with the way Ilie uses language and how she inserts things like the spirits of trees and hands-on healing and makes it all sound totally believable. There are many well-rounded characters in the book, a half-wolf, a neighbor who makes artful cookies, and many secrets and unexplained things that happened in the past, like the drowning of little Luke many years ago.

You will fall in love with this book!

Profile Image for Educating Drew.
284 reviews42 followers
December 18, 2011
Initially, I was intrigued by this book because a review (from where?) I read explicitly said: "Heyyyy. If you like folklore then this book is for you." I immediately jumped up and down in my head thinking: "They're talking to meeee!". So I requested it and Ba-Da-Bing, upon my doorstop it came.

What we have here is a story of unrequited love, of desperation, of abuse, of longing, and of magic. And it all takes place in this quaint town called Canandaigua where "restless spirits seem to clamor in the scan breezes on hot evenings."

The Cast

Grant, after a rocky marriage where wifey finally left because he just couldn't emotional connect, returns home. As it happens, Echo, the "one that got away" is returning to visit her family.


The Ellis family is still suffering from the loss of Luke, even though it has been many years since his mysterious death. His sisters are dealing with the devastation. Maya is in an institution and Melanie continues to blame herself even though she has a family now. Leila finally kicked dirtbag Victor out of the house, and although she never could be with the man she loved, she could watch her grandson grow up.


There's about three other love entanglements with other back stage characters.

My Thoughts

Allrighty. This book is going to be yet another one that the crowd adores and I am the Cheese Standing Alone. Such is life. I'm still not quite sure about the positive reviews. I found the characters to be nondescript, the dialogue swaying between bland and over-the-top, and not enough of the folklore that I was enticed with.

But really, how do I honestly feel? Heh.

I don't want to be terribly harsh in this review but if I wasn't reviewing this for the LT program I think I would have set it aside. Ouch, right? There were too many story lines all trying to feed into one and another without any specific plot truly being developed. I guess that's what bugged me. It lacked depth. I didn't find the writing beautiful, I found it tiresome.

Also, do adults really keep their feelings hidden as often as it is portrayed in this book? It moves beyond the "I'm shy and I don't want to get hurt" and into this compulsive, my love for you is a secret that I will take to the grave. For example, our *leading* characters Grant and Echo have known each other since they were kids. Always had eyes for each other even though neither said the L-word. At 17 and right before she moves off to college, Echo and Grant make love for the first time. Echo announces that she is in love with Grant and Grant, feeling too much, can't speak. So, what does the girl do? She takes off running, leaves town the next morning, and when he tries to explain on a phone call she just decides to tell him it was a mistake and that she's seeing someone else. IN WHAT WORLD DOES THIS HAPPEN?
I was probably done with the novel as soon as this was discovered - a mere couple of chapters in.

I say skip it, but everyone else in the world seems to say love it.
Profile Image for April.
Author 2 books76 followers
July 21, 2010
Mesmerizing, magical and haunting, The Language of Trees is a story that will remain with the reader long after the final words have been read. The story of these amazing characters will continue to shadow the reader's memory, tidbits surfacing out of the blue.

With poetically beautiful prose, Ilie Ruby brings to life the story of the Ellis family who has encountered one tragedy after another. The latest, the disappearance of wife, mother, sister and daughter, Melanie. Gone, without a trace or explanation, Melanie leaves behind her beloved son and husband. Once an addict, authorities toss this disappearance aside, saying that she will return when she is ready. Melanie's mother and husband, Lion, know different, however. Melanie has changed her life, turning it around for the better and embracing life with her heart and soul. Something horrible has happened and those who love Melanie will not rest until she is found.

The Language of Trees is also the story of newly divorced Grant Shongo, who has returned to Canandaigua Lake to repair his wounds and find a life worth living once again. It is not long before he meets his ex-love, Echo, who has returned to look out for her ailing father. Sparks fly and electricity crackles between the two, as circumstances and forgiveness bring them together once again. Will that new bond be broken once secrets of the past surface? Lives will forever change as ghosts of what once was re-surface and draw the town into their unrelenting grasp.

Ilie Ruby writes a debut novel sure to put even the most published of writer to the test. The Language of Trees is destined to transcend time and generations, resembling the folklores and folktales, which are rich within the story itself. I truly was absorbed within Ms. Ruby's writing and found myself transfixed with the town of Canandaigua Lake and its residents. Ms. Ruby's use of description and characterization are beyond amazing and enable the reader to quickly and easily become absorbed within the story. I do want to mention that, though loving the author's style of writing, the fact that the story is written in present tense was a bit difficult for me at times. I cannot say for sure why, perhaps it is just the fact that I have not read many books written in this tense. That being said, I simply adored every other aspect of The Language of Trees and eagerly await more works by the talented Ilie Ruby!
Profile Image for Teresa.
429 reviews106 followers
November 16, 2010
This, Ilie Ruby's debut novel, contains so much of what I love in a novel, great storytelling, ghosts, a beautiful setting and memorable characters. It's a story about homecoming, principally that of Grant Shongo and Echo O'Connell, once teen lovers, who return to Canandaigua, a place steeped in the history of the Seneca Indians. The disappearance of a young boy many years before is still impacting on the community and those still living must address the past and unearth previously buried secrets in order to move on with their lives.

It is easy to see that Ilie Ruby is also a painter, given the vivid descriptions of Canandaigua Lake in New York State. This is a very lyrical, slow moving novel in which the environment plays a key role in shaping the characters' lives.

"Victor Ellis has always been suspicious of moving water. The energy and force of the currents in rivers and streams, especially the ripples that drift across Canandaigua Lake, make him feel weak."

"Time is different here: the minutes, hours and days tracked by a set of different colours, smells, directions and strength of wind across the water. At night, Grant counts the hours by the direction of moonlight on the shifting water."

Second chances play an important role here, with Grant and Echo given the opportunity to rekindle their former romance, Luke, the young boy who died being given a chance to give his family peace at last. There is an underlying theme of healing and spirituality, a belief that optimism and positive thought can have a tangible effect on people's lives.

If you are of a cynical, sceptical nature, this is not the book for you but if you enjoy well written, stories of hope with a magical element then you will thoroughly enjoy The Language of Trees.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,076 reviews182 followers
June 29, 2010
Many, many years ago a terrible tragedy bestowed upon the three Ellis children, Melanie, Maya and Luke. The three had taken the canoe out. Luke drowned.

It has been over five years since Grant has been back to Canandaigua. Now that he is all alone… his ex-wife, Susanna left him, Grant decides to come back for a change. Though, Grant soon realizes that coming back home means facing his demons.

Echo O’Connell and Grant used to hang out together when they were younger. They pick up where they left off as if neither one ever left. Sadly, things have changed. Echo is haunted by ghosts. The only way she will be free is by telling the truth. A truth that will bring pain and heart-ache. The trees whisper the truth, if you listen.

The trees, the characters and the story line all spoke to me in this book. I thought that author; Ilie Ruby did a wonderful job with this book. I have to admit that I first I wasn’t really feeling this book. This is because of me. I have never really gotten into or truly understood fork lore. Though, I did enjoy reading about the fork lore in this book. Ms. Ruby really did her research and it did appear she started true to the Seneca tribe and Canandaigua. It is because Ms. Ruby did such a through job and has a gift as a story teller that I was about to sit back and enjoy reading this book. The Language of Trees is a poetic, mysterious good read. Worth your time.
Profile Image for Peggy.
315 reviews7 followers
March 9, 2011
The themes in the book are varied. There is a realistic part which is about the lives of the people around Canadaigua, New York. There is a mytical part of the book, where some of the characters in the community are healers with ties to the Seneca Indians. There is also a mystery involved.

This is a many faceted book that explores the lives of its characters. Grant Shongo has returned to the area after a failed marriage to get his head together. Echo O'Connell returns to check on her foster father, Joseph, who runs the feed and seed store. They have a past reltionship that resurfaces during her visit.

Maya and Melanie Elliot are two sisters who lived with their mother, Lelia. Ten years before, their brother drowned in the lake. They still see his spirit. He seems to hover around the whole town. Melanie, who has a troubled past, seems to have settles down with her boyfriend, Lion and her infant son, Luke, named after her drowned brother.

One day, Melanie disappears and the whole town has a hand in trying to
find her. Some townfolk suspect she has taken off with her druggie friends, but her family knows better since they feel she would never leave her baby.

All during the book, the spirit of Luke hovers over everyone. Is he trying to them them where Melanie is?
Profile Image for Christi Craig.
Author 4 books17 followers
April 17, 2011
"The Willows here grow to enduring heights of one hundred feet, their narrow leaves and long branches bent toward the ground, never forgetting their home." From The Language of Trees

Ilie Ruby's debut novel, The Language of Trees, is a story about place as much as it is about the people who live there. The trees in Canandaigua lay claim to the land and the characters, holding together their history and keeping their secrets.

Grant Shongo and Echo O'Connell both return to Canandaigua, their childhood home, alone, but their past quickly brings them together. Then, the mystery of a missing woman draws them both onto a path of discovery, where they find themselves again, they find the possibility of love, and they uncover the truth behind a secret that has haunted Canandaigua for years.

The Language of Trees is full of surprises and powerful revelations -- about the characters and about life. In the story, Ilie Ruby pulls the reader along with her prose that hints of answers but keeps the reader guessing. And, a painter in real life as well as a writer, Ruby uses vivid imagery to create a beautiful and mystical sense of place in Canandaigua.
March 24, 2010
This book is a richly woven mystery that is filled with imagery, intriguing metaphors, a touch of spiritualism, native American culture at times, and textured mental visuals. The writer has an artist's literary "eye" and brings you closer to actually sensing what she describes better than any book I've ever read. One of the things I like in a novel is when I get to the end of a chapter and it leaves me with even a hint of a cliff hanger and this book doesn't disappoint. The mystery builds but it does so in a setting so beautifully described by the author that you feel as though you're there. As the author states in her post story discussion the setting, which is in upstate New York and laden with American history, actually becomes a "character" in the story.

The characters are intricately crafted and each of them has a tremendous depth. The author does a splendid job of weaving their interconnections and unveiling them in a clever and timely way.

Curl up, pull up a cup of something warm and open the cover. The Language of Trees is an odyssey.
Profile Image for Amy.
357 reviews34 followers
August 28, 2010
Part magic realism, part ghost story, part mystery, The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby has many facets. First time novelist Ruby immediately plunges the reader into the lives of several troubled characters and the many secrets that are hidden in the small community of Lake Canandaigua. The tragic death of a young boy nearly a decade before which has haunted the small town, both literally and figuratively, is about to be revealed. Grant Shongo, a Seneca healer, and his first love, Echo O’Connell, return to town to face their past and uncover a secret that will forever change them and their town. Failed relationships will be reexamined, and love in its many forms will be discovered. Written in lyrical prose, The Language of Trees is ultimately a story about love, forgiveness and the miracles of second chances. Ruby honors the Spiritual and historical facts of the Seneca Nation, as well as capturing the sense of place of Canandaigua NY. This first novel is also a perfect book club choice as there will be much the reader wishes to discuss after reading the final page.
Profile Image for E.J. Stevens.
Author 54 books1,665 followers
July 16, 2010
A town drowning in guilty secrets and the hopes of the living while haunted by the spirits of the dead. The residents of Canandaigua Lake have all experienced tragedy before but some families seem especially cursed. A melancholy tale of loss and redemption, The Language of Trees is a story of how the lives of these families are intertwined like the branches of trees grown close together and how their inseparable destinies hold sorrow and hope. Ilie Ruby blends Seneca myth and tradition with a tragic modern tale in a way that is at once haunting and beautiful. The Language of Trees is filled with vivid imagery and lyrical prose that will remain with the reader long after turning the last page.

I recommend The Language of Trees to readers of paranormal fiction, mysteries, psychological suspense, romance, ghost stories and especially to fans of paranormal suspense.

** This review originally posted on my blog: www.FromTheShadows.info **
Profile Image for Marta Moran Bishop.
Author 48 books70 followers
December 26, 2011
I was swept away by Ilie Ruby’s “Language of the Trees,” to a world where anything was possible.
A place where the dreams of one’s youth can be recaptured, second chances are possible.

In “Language of the Trees,” one can integrate the beauty and spirituality of the Native American beliefs with today’s fast paced world.

You can see the potential of all of life having a spirit and soul and the possibility that there are things beyond one’s imagination that are achievable.

Ilie Ruby takes us on a spiritual journey, while keeping our feet firmly planted in today’s world. She crosses the boundaries between the beliefs of the Shaman and today’s western medicine. Ilie tells us a tale of love, betrayal, and second chances.

In her magnificently written novel, she gives us the beauty of Shakespeare’s prose, the no nonsense, yet poignant love stories of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austin.
1 review
May 16, 2010
Ms Ruby's novel explores the universal themes of love lost and found,
and families beset (and ultimately, made stronger by) unimaginable
tragedy. It does so, however, in a way unlike anything I've ever read
before: by drawing upon and weaving together elements of Native
American spirituality and the broader question of what happens to our
loved ones once they are no longer of the physical world. Wholly
original and yet utterly relatable, The Language of Trees is a story
rendered in language so gorgeously evocative, the characters and their
home of Canandaigua come to life in precise and vivid ways. Their
wisdom and beauty remain well after the books last page has been
reached. Highly recommended!
1 review
April 13, 2010
Attention: Busy moms, put this book on your summer reading list! The Language of Trees grabbed my attention from the first page--which is saying something since I am a busy mom and have a difficult time getting into most books these days! But this book is a page turner! Echo and Grant, the book's main characters, are real and relatable! In addition to the beautiful writing and the poetic references, this book is chock full of interwoven mysteries to keep one turning the page. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Dimity.
175 reviews22 followers
December 2, 2011
I read this novel as a Group Read selection and although the discussion about it was rather lackluster and I never got around to participating, I’m happy it was chosen because I’d not heard of it before and it was a joy to read. Ilie Ruby’s writing is so relaxing. The plot was chaotic at times but her prose really flows smoothly and I found myself enveloped in the world she creates. I love her incorporation of Native myths into a wonderfully complicated and engrossing story. I look forward to reading future works by this author.
Profile Image for Carrie Host.
15 reviews
December 3, 2010
“The Language of Trees, transports us into the deep, magical aspects of nature, while inviting us to reconsider the magnetic power of desires long buried. While not a believer in second chances, but rather in what is meant to exist, this story had me wanting to change my mind. This is a well rendered tale of shattered pieces, and the sorrow of remembering their beginnings. Ruby’s suspenseful story telling style and painterly prose make for an alluring read.

Ruby brings us to a seemingly innocuous town, whose many secrets are whispered and hidden among the giant willows. Her characters are artfully drawn, yet oddly familiar. We are shown Canandaigua, of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where the folklore of the Seneca Indians runs deep. When three children spontaneously set off in a canoe towards Squaw Island, to escape the angry father they are running from, a weeping rain turns to sudden fury; spilling into a tragedy that becomes a series of dark storms for the Ellis family.

This tightly wound tale manages to both inform and invite the reader to reconsider the gift of healing, or at least the deepest human urge to repair what is broken. Ruby shows us the mystery of spirit in all living things and how those spirits swoop and dart among us, landing in the most unlikely of places. This book will have you wondering about ghosts, and if those who remain and haunt us are simply the ones we choose to keep.

Carrie Host
Between Me and the River
Profile Image for Melanti.
1,256 reviews116 followers
June 4, 2015
I really enjoyed the first two thirds of this but the ending had quite a few plot holes that rather spoiled it.

And I'm not sure why the book had so many red herrings and mystery about it considering that

I liked the prose well enough, and liked the native american legends and sense of place that was woven throughout... Ruby has written another about selkies and I might give her a second chance with that one.
Profile Image for Carol.
517 reviews
May 11, 2011
This is one of those that I really shouldn't say I read because I didn't finish it. The writing was so inconsistent to me that I couldn't get into the story. On one page I loved the quote "Faith is made up of one part belief, two parts courage. Life has taught her that a gift always arrives on the heels of despair." Then on the next page I was just scratching my head at, "Her curly hair had resisted the once popular feathered hairstyle, while all the teenage girls carried round brushes in their purses as though they were arrows poisoned with love." HUH? About halfway through the book I just wasn't interested. And considering I was sitting in the DPS office waiting in line for 2 hours trying to read, that is saying a lot. Don't mean to be harsh but just can't finish this. Oh, and I should also add that the swearing was a huge turn-off. I understand sometimes needing to use swearing in character development but I thought this was over the top.
Profile Image for Harrie Rose.
Author 1 book9 followers
November 4, 2010
I'm divided about this book. On the on hand, it is a smoothly written love story that people who love love stories will love. On the other hand, it is based upon Seneca Indian lore, and loaded with mythical people, supernatural healings, portents, signs, etc. Again, if you can let yourself believe in these, then you will really like this book. My problem is that I don't believe in ghosts, born healers, wolves which mysteriously attach themselves to someone for beneficent purposes and the like. Some of it as motivating the action would have been all right, but all of it as determining what happened was too much for me.

Another thing is that this is a psychedelic world: amethyst skies, bright red suns, golden banks of a river.. Nothing is immune from having an improbable color. You may find her descriptions artistic. I found them somewhat annoying, like Ruby was trying too hard.
Profile Image for Karen.
28 reviews18 followers
March 31, 2011
From the opening scene a welcome spell is cast over the reader. Each character, no matter how `minor' is important and fully developed. The Author brilliantly expands on each character as the story unfolds, adding to the deepening mystery! The storyline is woven like a delicate silk thread through a vibrant fabric. It's simply Magic.
To my delight and surprise I found Spiritual Truths on every page:

"...we were like two trees growing next to each other, one a willow, the other pine, both claiming the same space but needing different things from it."

" "What is it that Joseph always says? Faith is made up of one part belief, two parts courage."

It's truly a novel you do not want to end. I can't wait for Ms. Ruby's next novel!
Profile Image for Katrina.
Author 11 books493 followers
July 31, 2010
Ilie Ruby's THE LANGUAGE OF TREES should come with a warning label: this book will cause sleep deprivation. First, you will not be able to rest until you finish reading, but even when you come to the end, the characters and images will haunt your dreams. This exquisite, spooky, healing story had me by the throat from the first pages of the prologue....This may just be my favorite book of the summer.
Profile Image for Yoli.
21 reviews
January 5, 2013
I loved this book. If I were an English Teacher I would make it required reading. It has such imagery and beautiful prose. Great story line with vibrant characters. I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to read her next book!
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