"Gregory Maguire Praises Ilie Ruby's Debut No
by HarvardReader on 4/11/2010
The Language of Trees, like Whitman's Leaves of Grass though in a magic realist vernacular, refreshingly asserts that deeply American conviction: the gravest natural instinct is to heal and be healed. A shimmeringly heart-felt story.
-Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked
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Singing the Praises for The Language of Trees-Ilie
by SheLovesBooks on 4/11/2010
A FABULOUS DEBUT by AUTHOR ILIE RUBY: THE LANGUAGE OF TREES
Canandaigua Lake, a place still reeking of the battles that were fought there, becomes the setting for battles of a different kind-those of the mind and spirit, of addiction, love, and forgiveness. In this fascinating debut, nature and the spiritual world are intertwined when the three young Ellis children steal a boat and sail into the lake on a rainy night. Only two children return. The mystery of Luke Ellis' disappearance is never solved, and proves to drive the answers to many twists and turns throughout the story. The author seamlessly takes us to the current day, when Echo O'Connell returns home to Canandaigua, to care for her ailing father. At once, despite much trepidation, she reunites with her childhood love, Grant Shongo, who ancestry is Seneca Indian, and who possesses a rare ability to heal the sick in what might currently be depicted as a process of energetic healing. Transcending the limits of religion and culture, Ruby depicts a fascinating and delicate description of this healing process, without ever giving too much away. She paints an engaging portrait of modern-day spirituality that makes us want to know more, especially since Grant is not the only one in town who has the ability to heal. Forced long ago to turn his back on his healing gifts, Grant is recovering from his own failed marriage. When he returns to his childhood cabin, he is taken up by the ghost of little Luke Ellis. The spirit of the child is restless, and we find that he has been waiting all this time to set the record straight. Now that his teenage sister has gone missing, leaving her infant son, Luke becomes at once impatient, dragging Grant into a desperate search and in the process, igniting Grant's own sense of purpose and survival. With her undeniable lyricism and poetic voice, Ruby takes us on a fascinating journey that refuses to be compartmentalized as mystery or love story, or as secular or nonsecular. This book evades labels, which is precisely why I love it. The love stories of many characters throughout the book ground the story while the spiritual realm is never far from our minds. In a fully engaging and beautifully rendered debut, Ruby brings us to place where nothing is as it seems, where the line between pain and forgiveness blurs, and where second chances prevail above all else. This is a book to read over and over again. THE LANGUAGE OF TREES is a beautifully woven debut, depicting the dark and light of the human experience with unabashed honesty and compassion, by an author whose stories I will follow time and again.
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