Saturday, July 29, 2017

#BookReview || The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano

The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano 
Goodreads || Amazon
June 13, 2017

Galley via publisher in exchange for an 
honest review

“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family—it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events—including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin—that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth—and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel—she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the centuries-old curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried… at any cost.

From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.

PSA: This book and this review will both discuss self-harm. Please don’t read either if this topic is triggering for. While I will not be graphic in this review, I would still rather you put yourself first. Consider any curiosity sated by this: the topic was not addressed appropriately. Furthermore, there will most likely be spoilers.

I’ll begin with this: I had high hopes. The book was at a rating of 3.7 on Goodreads when the inquiry from the publisher rolled in. Pretty good for any published book. I didn’t bother reading any of the review (I rarely read reviews of books that haven’t been discussed extensively on Twitter or around the blogosphere) and I sort of regret that now. I was notified of the potential triggering content, which is actually why I had more hope for non-problematic representation than I usually do for books dancing around the topic of self-harm.

The book did not have a disclaimer, though the summary INSIDE THE HARDCOVER FLAPS does note that the main character, Tori Burns, has cut in the past. However, I’ve yet to see the Goodreads summary mention this one, ginormous, detail that becomes the basis which this book is founded and built upon.  


*puts head in hands*

The story itself is interesting, if you choose to completely ignore that the “dark magic” comes from cutting, and that the romance itself that develops in the book acts as an excuse to continue to do so. {and yes, I did come across the part where the boy asks the girl to stop, bargaining} How does it allow the continuation? Justify it? The end of the book freaking romanticizes it, showing that her cutting brings back her long-dead boyfriend from beyond the grave so that they can be together.

Yikes. Yuck. Please, Lord Almighty, just stop.

This whole reward-from- self-harm thing promotes positivity towards cutting. I just…I really cannot. I CAN’T. It’s like how people were romanticizing THIRTEEN REASONS WHY saying that they’d leave so-and-so tapes. It’s like how people are STILL glamorizing anorexia.

When none of these issues are ever addressed, they continue to persist. In THE SUFFERING TREE, for the part that I read (about the first 50%), the worst thing that happened was Tori wary that her mom would catch her, or the comments made by disgusting, horrid, anger-inducing, totally-punch-in-the-face-worthy high school students about the near-suicide. There was not a “come to Jesus” moment where Tori’s cutting was ever talked about as harmful, or needing to get legitimate help for. Why her mom did not continue to send her to a therapist when they moved is BEYOND me.

You can’t just move cities/states/counties and all you problems just magically disappear. Turning those problems into something that brings hot, moody, but terribly sweet colonial boys back from the dead? That’s just as bad, if not even worse.

Simply put: this book had potential. I was hopeful. It turned out to be harmful. For the sake of my own mental health, I chose not to read it in its entirety.

Since I did not finish the book, I will not give it a rating.

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