Friday, August 10, 2018

The Family Tree, by Mal Peet

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A sensitive novella about family breakdown. 

A young man, Ben, is driving in a part of town he doesn't usually visit, a place where his childhood home still stands. On a whim, he decides to make a turn and visit his old house. He immediately regrets his decision as painful memories come rushing back. He remembers his mother and father and their difficult relationship which ended whilst living in the house. Ben especially remembers the treehouse outside, called “The Nest”. His father built it for him and spent much time there himself, trying to escape his problems. When Ben looks over The Nest, now belonging to a new family who have bought the property, he is dismayed at how run down it has become. It obviously has no value for the new family, but means so much to Ben.

The Family Tree, a novella for young adult readers, is a sensitive and heart-wrenching story of family breakdown and the special childhood places that can offer solace from a world of troubles. Mal Peet has written a sparse yet emotionally resonant story, capturing the trauma of watching a parents' marriage disintegrate . Emma Shoard's painterly, expressionistic illustrations provide a perfect match for Peet's sparse prose.

The Family Tree, by Mal Peet. Published by Barrington Stoke. ISBN: 9781781128053 RRP: $16.99

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