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Tree is six foot, three and a half inches tall and still growing. He''s never really fit in, but with the help of his grandpa and the new girl at school, Tree begins to realize that he can stand tall and be himself, no matter where he is.
Many of Joan Bauer's young adult novels feature feisty female protagonists--a situation likely influenced by the fact that Bauer is one of four sisters who were raised primarily by their mother and maternal grandmother. Bauer has said that her father, a salesman who was married four times, was a complicated person--a characterization mirrored by many of the fathers in her books. Before becoming a full-time author, Bauer worked in advertising--a career which blossomed into writing for magazines and newspapers and eventually movie screenplays. Her first novel, SQUASHED, was written as she slowly recovered from a serious car accident. That book, which was published in 1992, won the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Novel.
"The good guys don't always win. But Bauer allows her characters conditional victories, which may be the most realistic, and the most important, of all....Bauer offers her young readers a vision of life that includes both compassion for people's failings and realistic hope for their own futures. The highest praise I can offer her is that while she writes novels for adolescents, she does not pander to them with adolescent novels."
"Bauer is a master at finding inspiration and purpose in everyday life. She writes about serious themes with humor, grace, and wisdom. If the story is unabashedly inspirational, maybe that's something young readers will appreciate these days--an eloquent story of ordinary heroes when 'the shock of loss was everywhere.'"
"Rather than tidily demarcating main plot and subplots, the book allows them to combine and separate much as strands of real life do, resulting paradoxically in a more cohesive view of its protagonist's life than more tightly structured plots. Bauer also manages the delicate task of writing articulately and realistically about Tree's suffering without making Tree himself unrealistically articulate; instead, he's a believable good kid trying to survive believable bad time, and readers will easily relate to him."