The Memory Trees is a dark magical realism novel about a mysterious family legacy, a centuries-old feud, and a tragic loss that resurfaces when sixteen-year-old Sorrow returns to her mother’s family orchard for the summer.
Sorrow Lovegood’s life has been shaped by the stories of the women who came before her: brave, resilient women who settled long ago on a mercurial apple orchard in Vermont. The land has been passed down through generations, and Sorrow and her family take pride in its strange history. Their offbeat habits may be ridiculed by other townspeople—especially their neighbors, the Abrams family—but for the first eight years of her life, the orchard is Sorrow’s whole world.
Then one winter night everything changes. Sorrow’s sister Patience is tragically killed. Their mother suffers a mental breakdown. Sorrow is sent to live with her dad in Miami, away from the only home she’s ever known.
Now sixteen, Sorrow’s memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy; even the details of her sister’s death are unclear. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. Why has her mother kept her distance over the years? What actually happened the night Patience died? Is the orchard trying to tell her something, or is she just imagining things?
I really enjoyed this. It’s well written and intriguing. The pacing feels a bit slow in places but I really like how that means we get bits and pieces of the history throughout the story. And the ending is a gorgeous way of summing it up.
Kali Wallace has SUCH a gorgeous way of dealing with all the struggles in the book – they are SO well written. From mental health, to family struggles, to losing a sister. Painful subjects handled with grace and sensitivity.
My only real quibbles were not getting enough information – how is the orchard lined to their family? I definitely also need more on why the family history is so strained between them and the Abrams – I know you get bits but the level of anger over boundary lines and several people getting shot seems a bit more than what is laid out. And why did their family evolve how it did? I always like when I am left wanting so much more information but here were bits I wished were included to improve the story. However, a really interesting read!