4 out of 4 stars
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Maybelline Emmons visits modern-day Santa Rosa, California, the town where she spent her younger years. In her nostalgia, she tries to locate a large oak tree that held many memories of her youth, including picnics with her late husband. But it's been 40 years, and times have changed. Santa Rosa no longer looks like she remembers what with the new buildings and more than half of the tree population gone. Thankfully, she finds her tree on a small lot surrounded by buildings but with a "for sale" sign on it. Relieved that urbanization hasn't gotten to the tree before her, she still marvels at the coincidence of her arrival and the sale.
She is tricked into buying the property by an old friend, Millicent, founder and ex-owner of the real estate company brokering the property. Millicent usurps the sale from her son and daughter-in-law currently running the company and about to seal the deal with Squirrel-Mart, a commercial mall. Millicent shares similar memories and fondness for the tree. It is later discovered that Millicent was the owner of the property. Sadly, she dies shortly after.
Shockingly, Maybelline finds out that although she owns the lot, she has no timber rights and, therefore, no rights to the tree (her purpose for acquiring the property). The town sheriff, Tank Darden, claims it is under commercial zoning and that approval for his logging operation to cut down the tree had been given. Maybelline also comes across Oak and his girlfriend, Joni, and together they set out to defend and save her oak tree against the likes of Tank Darden and the Squirrel-Mart.
Treed by Virginia Arthur is a tribute to tree defenders or "tree sitters" in Joni's words. I enjoyed every bit of this story. I admired the friendships between Maybelline and Mirabelle, Oak and Joni, and the love between Maybelline and her late husband, Jay. But most significantly, I appreciated the love for trees and all things nature. It was the common thread that connected all of them, binding them together.
One thing I really liked about the book was Maybelline's amazing personality. Her sarcasm and light humour added depth to her character and laughter to the story. At 75, she was as fit as a fiddle and sharp-witted. She was intuitive, observant, sensitive, insightful, and carefree. In many ways, she was more like Oak than she realized. Aside from the uncanny resemblance between them, her mother-son relationship with him sated her desire for motherhood.
I enjoyed the author's writing. It was calm yet engaging, and I never struggled to understand what she was trying to say. No part of the story felt rushed; the pacing was just right. I thought there were too many supporting characters in the book. Thankfully, though, they efficiently played their parts in the development of the story. The only thing I was uncomfortable with was the swear words. I must admit that I was surprised at first, seeing as most of them came from senior citizens. Also, the backstory before the first chapter is totally unrelated save for the tree. I felt like the story could do well without that part.
Treed was professionally edited. Throughout the book, I couldn't find any grammatical errors. As a result, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Regardless of my discomfort with swear words, they are commonplace with many people, so I didn't deem them sufficient to deduct a point. Nevertheless, this story's humour and appeal were satisfying. I would recommend this book to environmentalists, naturalists, tree defenders, etc. or people who love stories about history and adventure.
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