Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tell It to the Trees by Anita Rau Badami

A dead body is found in the snow outside the home of the Dharma family in smalltown British Columbia in 1980. The head of the family is Vikram, an abusive tyrant who beats his children and humiliates his wife. Suman Dharma and her children, Varsha and Hemant, take turns telling us what happened to Anu, the dead woman who had been renting the cottage at the back of the Dharma property. Anu's voice is also present, in the form of her journal entries.

I like books with multiple points of view, but it was creepy to see the world through the eyes of Varsha, a horrible and manipulative 13-year-old. It's an unsettling novel.

P.S. To whomever wrote the jacket copy for Tell It to the Trees: the town of Merritt, B.C. is not located in northern Canada. It is only one degree of latitude north of the U.S./Canadian border. So there.

Note added October 23, 2011: Yesterday Badami said her setting was a composite, not a real town, set in northern BC. I stand corrected.

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