A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.
The Crying Tree is a heartfelt family drama by Naseem Rakha.
Irene Stanley thought her world had come to an end when her fifteen-year-old son, Shep, was murdered in a robbery at their Oregon home. Daniel Robbin, who had spent his teenage years in and out of trouble, gave himself up to the police and was imprisoned in the State Penitentiary.
Now, eighteen years later, Robbin is placed on Death Row awaiting a date for his execution. Irene's husband, Nate, has demons from the past of his own which he needs to face, and Shep's sister, Bliss, quickly learns that she too has a part to play in the healing of her family shattered by the tragedy.
Irene, having reached the brink of suicide, comes to the realization that to survive she needs to overcome her grief and her hate for Robbin, and that she must face the secrets that she suspects surround Shep's murder. She turns full circle, defying both her family and the church, and finds that she is not only capable of forgiveness for the man who murdered her son, but also she comes to terms with understanding much more about events that happened that fateful afternoon back in Carlton. And perhaps the most painful realization of all, how little they as a family understood Shep.
This complex, layered story of a family's journey toward justice and forgiveness comes together through spellbinding storytelling. Deputy sheriff Nate Stanley calls home one day and announces he's accepted a deputy post in Oregon. His wife, Irene, resents having to uproot herself and their children, Shep and Bliss, from their small Illinois town, but Nate insists it's for the best. Once they've moved into their new home, Shep sets off to explore Oregon's outdoors, and things seem to be settling in nicely until one afternoon when Nate returns home to find his 15-year-old son beaten and shot in their kitchen. After Shep dies in Nate's arms, the family seeks vengeance against the young man, Daniel Joseph Robbin, accused of Shep's murder. In the 19 years between Shep's death and Daniel's legal execution, Bliss becomes all but a caretaker for her damaged parents, and a crisis pushes Irene toward the truth about what happened to Shep. Most of the big secret is fairly apparent early on, so it's a testament to Rakha's ability to create wonderfully realized characters that the narrative retains its tension to the end.