Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

At the onset of The Language of Trees, we meet Melanie Ellis, the oldest of three children, with siblings Maya and Luke. Her family has a dysfunctional past, and the first pages of the book disclose a forgotten tragic family secret that Melanie will harbor for the rest of her life.

Grant Shongo, the second main character, is recovering from a failed relationship, and returns to Canandaigua Lake to heal his emotional wounds. He interacts with Lion, who is married to Melanie and is desperate for news after the disappearance of his wife. Clarisse Mellon is Melanie’s neighbor, and recalls the tragedy of the lake from years ago. Clarisse is much like the other characters who also hear the voices of the spirits and understand the deep nature of Grant’s pain. She knows that Melanie would not have left her boyfriend Lion and infant without a good reason – she just can’t understand what has happened but continues to hope for the best.

The story moves smoothly to Grant and Echo, as they explore their past relationship and what it will mean for their future. The reader will enjoy the haunting way that The Language of Trees brings in characters, analyzes the reactions of other characters, and spins the story off in interesting directions. Pieces of the puzzle slowly come together as we find out what is really happening with each major character.

Ilie Ruby writes skillfully about spirits, local legends, sacred places and ultimate healing – all of which can occur in both our physical world and inside of the hearts of people, who come to understand that it’s not too late to find an inner courage to survive.

Rating: 4.5/5

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.