Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Lie Tree - Frances Hardinge

Title: The Lie Tree
Author: Frances Hardinge
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2016 (Hardcover)
Length: 377 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction, Thriller
Started: June 1, 2016
Finished: June 8, 2016

From the inside cover:

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well-mannered - a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing - like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father's death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father's murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies - like fires, wild and crackling - quickly take on a life of their own.

I read the summary for this and knew it was right up my alley, plus the award winner aspect really intrigued me. Thankfully my instincts were right and this little gem of a book really impressed me.

Faith's father is a Reverend and also a budding scientist who's traveled all over Europe and Asia in search of specimens. Faith takes after her father in terms of intellect and natural curiosity, but in Victorian era England, girls are not permitted to engage in scientific pursuits if they want to be thought of as proper young ladies. Faith feels constrained by society's expectations towards her, but has more pressing matters to attend to, like her family's relocation due to scandal, and eventually her father's death. As Faith reads her father's journals and learns about the lie tree, she realizes she may be able to gain proof of her suspicion that her father's death was murder rather than suicide.

First off, I loved all the biblical allusions and allegories in this book. The main protagonist's name is Faith, she has a pet snake, she tends a tree that feeds on lies and produces fruit that when eaten will bestow a truth in the form of a vision. The author includes some great themes of gender expectations and individual versus society as well. This is a great book for discussion and would be a wonderful choice for a classroom across subjects (English, Religion, Philosophy, etc.)

A great story with an intriguing plot, a likeable heroine, great themes and allusions, in addition to being well-written.

Thoughts on the cover:
Very appropriate and catches your interest.

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