The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby

This, Ilie Ruby’s debut novel, contains so much of what I love in a  novel, great storytelling, ghosts, a beautiful setting and memorable characters.  It’s a story about homecoming, principally that of Grant Shongo and Echo O’Connell, once teen lovers, who return to Canandaigua, a place steeped in the history of the Seneca Indians.  The disappearance of a young boy many years before is still impacting on the community and those still living must address the past and unearth previously buried secrets in order to move on with their lives.

It is easy to see that Ilie Ruby is also a painter, given the vivid descriptions of Canandaigua Lake in New York State.  This is a very lyrical, slow moving novel in which the environment plays a key role in shaping the characters’ lives.

Victor Ellis has always been suspicious of moving water.  The energy and force of the currents in rivers and streams, especially the ripples that drift across Canandaigua Lake, make him feel weak.

Time is different here: the minutes, hours and days tracked by a set of different colours, smells, directions and strength of wind across the water.  At night, Grant counts the hours by the direction of moonlight on the shifting water.

Second chances play an important role here, with Grant and Echo given the opportunity to rekindle their former romance, Luke, the young boy who died being given a chance to give his family peace at last.  There is an underlying theme of healing and spirituality, a belief that optimism and positive thought can have a tangible effect on people’s lives.

If you are of a cynical, sceptical nature, this is not the book for you but if you enjoy well written, stories of hope with a magical element then you will thoroughly enjoy The Language of Trees.

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