In the Trees is the story of a boy called Kid who comes from south London. His mother is dead and he never knew his father. He lives with Nadine (I’m not sure what her relationship to him is) and her boyfriend. A box from his mother arrives for him. It’s full of junk and a couple of letters, one for him and one for his grandmother, and in it he discovers his father’s name and that he came from Belize. Then Nadine decides that she and her boyfriend want the flat to themselves and ask Kid to find somewhere else to live.
Though Kid is still at school, he has a job, so he’s saved some money and Nadine gives him some to help him find somewhere to live, but Kid decides it’s time to find his father.
What follows is the story of Kid’s search for his father. His journey takes him from the capital city of Belize to the depth of the great forest where, through a series of unplanned events, he ends up with a group of gap-year students who are working to build a perimeter fence and an outpost so people can come and guard the borders in order to stop others stripping the forest of its resources.
It’s a story about the need for conservation, a story that allows us to see at first hand why the forest must remain intact. We see how it’s a very different world to the one most people inhabit and, living in one myself, I know this is true. Forests are very special places, and this one changes the people who spend time in them. When Kid is feeling a kind of grief at having to leave an old man, who is possibly a forest spirit says …
It’s a state of mind. The trees won’t leave you when you go. They’re a way of life all your own. They’re what you take wherever you go. Once you’ve lived among them, you’ll always flourish beneath their shade. However far you travel, they’ll always be your home.
Very true and very wise. There’s a definite thumbs up here for a gap year that takes school leavers out of their comfort zone and into the world of the great forest.
Ms Fisk knows how to write a good story with strong characters, realistic dialogue and a pace that keeps you reading. As in the other stories of hers that I’ve read, there’s depth in the psychological portrait of the main character and insight in the way he sees the world. In this instance, she gives us insight into the lives of the Mayan people living in the jungle in Belize, and leaves us with a sense of the beauty and the importance of the forest.
Ms Fisk is one of the rare authors who can write a good book in virtually all expositional prose. For many authors, this shows a lack of ability, but for Ms Fisk it is a matter of style. Though this kind of writing keeps the reader somewhat removed from the character and action, Ms Fisk still manages to keep the reader engaged, primarily due to a strong voice and her excellent control of all the other elements that make up a novel. Nevertheless, I can’t help thinking how much more powerful this would be if some of the scenes had been shown rather than told.
The cover gives a good feel for the book.
I received this book free of charge from the author in return for an honest review.