The Secret Tree

secret-treeEveryone has secrets. Some are small and innocuous “I am going to surprise my friend with a special lunch”  but others carry much more weight “I am betraying my best friend in a terrible way.”  We carry these secrets, large and small, light and heavy, around with us every day. But when the burden of these secrets, hopes, and fears becomes to much, we have to find ways to lighten the load.  In the woods behind 10 year old Minty Mortimer’s house, there’s a big old oak tree with a gaping hole in the center, and as she discovers one summer afternoon, it’s the tree where people hide their secrets.

Discovering the Secret Tree unlocks a whole world of mysteries and secrets Minty never knew existed; it seems everyone in her neighborhood is living a secret life she had no idea about.  And in addition to these private, every day secrets, there are bigger mysteries too:  the Witch House , a spooky old farmhouse with a crazy lady living inside; the Man-Bat, a seven foot tall half-man, half-bat who flies through the night; the Mean Boys who terrorize the other kids in the neighborhood; a reclusive boy who hides in the woods, taking pictures of people; and thefts all kinds of things from people’s homes and garages.  While Minty tries to unravel the mysteries in her neighborhood and match her neighbors up to the anonymous secrets left in the Secret Tree, she’s also faced with uncertain changes of her own: in this summer before middle school, her best friend Paz is drifting away from her towards a clique of popular girls; her older sister is acting stranger than normal; and her new friend has a secret that may change everything.

Natalie Standiford‘s The Secret Tree is a charming little novel about the time in life when we realize that growing up is going to be a lot harder than we thought.  Minty’s awakening over the course of this summer to the mysteries of people’s inner lives, their hopes and fears, and the ways in which others can both let you down and lift you up, is handled with a delicate grace and an authenticity that will ensure the reader connects with her in a real and heartfelt way.  Standiford creates a smart, likable girl, whom I’d like to imagine would be good friends with some of these girls in books I’ve enjoyed: Sunny, Millie, Zelly, Madeline and Raine.

  • Posted by Cori

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