The People in the Trees

The People in the TreesThe People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one tough book to review.

I almost gave up early on. Basically this is the fictional autobiography of an especially unlikable narcissist and probably sociopath who's only redeemable characteristic is that be is a brilliant, or maybe just extremely lucky, medical researcher who goes by the name of Norton. I may have quit the book early on except that Norton's rat-a-tat-tat narration, somewhat like Oskar in "The Tin Drum", kept me intrigued. It wasn't that I particularly liked the experience, but the book seemed in a hurry to get somewhere and I wanted to get there too.

There turned out to be the "Dreamers",the people in the trees, an amazing discovery with a twist, yada-yada could change the world. As events proceed Norton, when he's not behaving like a petulant child appears, possibly, take turn towards being human. Will he atone for his sins? Maybe. He rescues (adopts) children from the land he helped destroy. Guilt?

--Spoiler--

Nope, As it turns out Norton is even worse than I'd imagined. This brought up the question: What was I reading and why?

If execution is everything then this novel is worthy of three stars--probably more. Yet I can't recommend it. Maybe as an expose of the mind of a sociopath it has merit--maybe. As for me, I feel as though I was led through a dark and dreary labyrinth. There were hints of light along the way, but not much. I think there was a Catholic moment that may have thrown me off: penance, forgiveness, and time spent in Purgatory. But, after turning the final corner it turn out the glimmer of light was actually a pile shit! This book is definitely not for everybody. As it turns out it wasn't even for me. Yanagihara may someday be considered a great author, but this is not the book that will have me looking up whatever other work she may have out there.


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  6. A few glimpses of light appeared along the wall contractors route, but not many. One Catholic concept that might have confused me was the idea of purgatory, forgiveness, and penance.

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