Tree is immediately captivating, as the entire story is told from the perspective of a tree whose life spans centuries as human life changes around it, primarily revolving around four distinct civilizations. Melina Sempill Watts uses a rich botanical background and extensive research to bring nature to life through Tree‘s world of grass, plants, and animals, each taking on personalities and emotions. On an interesting note, Watts uses e as a third pronoun when referring to Tree and other plants that are simultaneously female and male.
Watts incorporates magical realism elements, giving the tree a rich personality and a deep empathy that feels very human, which personifies the Tree and makes it easy to connect with. Each plant has a name and a unique personality, which usually balances out with what’s occurring. The blades of grass are individual characters with personalities that are large compared to their small existence. Tree’s first friend is Univervia, a blade of grass that dies from the heat, which allows for a moment to mourn with the tree. The plants have a range of personalities, from a daunting blade of grass to young trees competing to grow and described as having a child-like vanity. The rock stands out with its stoic personality and distinct place in the story as an all-knowing presence, often speaking of all things being alive, how nothing lasts forever, and how change is life. Whatever the plant or rock, Watts ensures everything has a place and an impact on Tree’s life, even for just a brief moment.
The opening is a peaceful paradise with nothing but lush descriptions of nature surrounding the tree and the happenings of life as it progresses. A lot of charm and beauty can be found in the daily life, introducing the world through a scrub jay’s attempt to capture the attention of a female bird by obtaining an acorn. This stunning portrayal of life is balanced by the swift inclusion of death when a hawk snatches the bird and kills it. Life and death is constantly balanced and explored through the birth of turtles and the death of grass through every moment of change. This natural world contrasts to the arrival of humans who open up a whole new world for Tree. There are several instances where Tree is mesmerized by the actions of humans, watching as ranchers feed cattle and a mother nurses her child. Watts somehow finds beauty in the simple moments of being human, as well as the tragic ones, while also exploring the beauty in history. Through Tree’s eyes, there’s a sense of wonder and curiosity by the existence of everything around it, which allows for you to be connected as well. Tree creates a deep appreciation for life, history, and culture.
Despite Tree’s curiosity of humans, it has the deepest connection to one in particular: Maria Marta. Tree watches from afar as Maria Marta goes from an ill child to a young woman in love to a young mother to a grieving widow to her final days. Tree is present for every prominent moment of her life, until the end, when it’s the site of her final resting place. Through every new chapter in Maria Marta’s life, Tree shows changes are indeed a natural part of life seen through the eyes of a tree that never changes. The story ends on a hopeful note as, even though Maria Marta and all that came before her is in the past, there’s always a new beginning. Tree bonds with a little boy named Enzo, who has the same connection and understanding of Tree that Maria Marta had, which hints at a new journey and a new beginning.
|Author||Melina Sempill Watts|
|Page Count||246 pages|
|Publisher||Change the World Books|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|