Format Read: Trade paperback
Source: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Buying Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Blurb from goodreads:
Suddenly Mother jumped to her feet and ran to one of the trees, a three-hundred-foot-tall redwood. "Forever tree! Forever tree!" she cried, smiling. She swept the skinny girl up into her arms. The child's pale skin shimmered in the golden forest light. "Forever trees, forever trees," they sang, spinning in circles. The memory melted into the fog, and Eliza felt very tired. The question came again to her. It appeared out of the gray, out of the damp, out of the cold corners of this new house. The question whispered it always did the kind of whisper that sounded very loud indeed: Where had Mother gone? Shadows appeared and disappeared in Eliza's mind. Still, she couldn't remember. She simply could not remember anything after that last story in the forest. For some reason, she wasn't terribly worried. She was a little worried, for sure, but not terribly worried, because a strange calm held the shadows and the question. It held Eliza, too. Because love is forever.
This book just didn't hold my interest. I should have read it in a few hours, not a few days, but either I'd put it down and do other things or I'd doze off while reading it. Part of the problem was that I was just wasn't invested enough in Eliza, she didn't feel real to me. Maybe if the story had started before Mother went away and we had seen Eliza before instead of just after. The story felt too long and there were parts that weren't necessary such as the chapters with the frogs. I also questioned why bats were initially presented as bad guys; in the real world bats do fantastic job of controlling the mosquito population.
I did like the mythic overtones to the story and Eliza's journey and the use of different animals as helpers on her journey. The subplot of a storm and it's effects on the animals and how they react to it was sweet and, if not subtle, was not a too obvious commentary on cooperation. There is a generous helping of quotes from childrens books that are in the public domain; Tara clearly loves and knows childrens books. She also has a talent for words and language that children and adults can enjoy:
The memory melted into the fog, and Eliza felt very tired. The question came again to her. It appeared out of the gray, out of the damp, out of the cold corners of this new house. The question whispered-it always did-the kind of whisper that sounded very loud indeed
Even butterflies knew what she knew-that stories are forever friends; they speak a language any girl or butterfly could understand.
Books give warmth. They warm us with their words.
"These are huckleblerries," she said. "Huckleblerries?" asked Eliza. "Yes. That's what they are called," declared the ladybug. "Not huckleberries?" asked Eliza. "No!" said the ladybug sharply. "Huckleblerries, with an l. Ladybug starts with l. It's a very important letter."
Gwooop went Eliza's foot as it sank into the mud. "Walooop," said the mud as she pulled her foot back out. "Gwooop!" cried Eliza. "Waloop!" echoed the butterfly.
Tara weaves themes of the treasure found in stories, the delicate balance of life, and the importance of working together along with a subtler theme of ecology and preservation. Despite my love of books and my belief in the themes that Tara uses, the book, as I said earlier, just didn't hold my interest. Then again, I'm not the intended audience and maybe a child in elementary school or middle school might enjoy the book more.