Nerdy 30 Book #8

For my library book, I read The Trees by Ali Shaw. I discovered it from BookTube (probably either Mercy or Jen) and put a hold on it since someone had it checked out. My hold came up surprisingly quickly and I realized just how big of a book it was. Almost 500 pages of hardback.

Despite its size, it never dragged. It’s a magical realism story about what happens when a gigantic forest springs up overnight. It completely alters civilization which excites Hannah but not her teenage son Seb or perpetually worrisome Adrien. Adrien is the stereotype of a weak, temperamental man who feels as though he belongs nowhere and often drowns in his own self-loathing. The novel takes off when Adrien agrees to go to find Hannah’s brother, a forester.

Hannah loves the outdoors and Seb was always glued to his computer. Seb feels similarly about the trees as Adrien does but Hannah fights to be eternally optimistic about the change. Adrien joins the pair to find Alex, Hannah’s brother and a forester, in the hopes of finding a way to survive in this new world. From there, all three discover there is more to this new world than they could have ever anticipated.

Part of why this piece of literary fiction is magical realism is that the forest is not just a natural phenomenon. There are little creatures in the forest not everyone can see and a creature that arrived with the trees that hasn’t been seen for millennia (likely this beasty). The forest becomes a character unto itself, and like the other characters, is very well realized and developed.

The changes were gradual and natural which made so much of the story feel possible. If you can read this book and walk away not feeling something, you read it wrong. I’m deducting half a star because I feel that Seb was a bit underserved. 4.5/5

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