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San Francisco Book Review
December, 2 2010
This book is intended to take you on a spiritual journey toward the power of forgiveness, and will cause you to pause when considering the issue of the death penalty.

Gazette & Herald
November 4, 2010
It is a story of prejudice, compassion and of forgiveness. It is a story that can alter your perspective of life.

Shelf Awareness
October, 2010
Rakha has written a book that is almost impossible to put down. It is hauntingly beautiful, with wonderfully complex characters; there are a few surprises in the story, but the point is not the mysteries of fact, but the mysteries of the hea

Rick and Judy Bookclub
September 2, 2010
A remarkable debut from Naseem Rakha. We found her descriptions of the deep impact on a family, when a child is murdered, extraordinarily vivid and emotional. Just as moving and thought-provoking is her account of the U.S. Death Row and a system untroubled by a gap of nearly 20 years between sentencing a man to death and killing him.

February 22, 2010
The Crying Tree is everything that great fiction stands for. It is an immense tale of sadness, of incredible loss - perhaps the greatest loss, losing a child. It's also about the arduous, soul-shattering journey of trying to pick up the pieces, make sense of the world, and eventually move forward. It's a tale of redemption in overcoming the loss of faith in life itself.

December 21, 2009
The Crying Tree offers readers an enthralling story. It also offers a sense of hope: the possibility that we, as a society, may someday find a place for genuine forgiveness within our justice system.

December 10, 2009
Each step of the book leads so beautifully to the next step that there are no natural stops when you have to go to bed or go to work or whatever task takes you away from this story. You really want to keep reading it – maybe for the rest of your life.

LAUREN LISE BARATZ-LOGSTED - Author of Crazy Beautiful (Red Room Review)
Ms. Rakha does a stunning job of nonlinear storytelling here, jumping back and forth between past and present to weave a strong tale that will make readers think while moving them more than once to tears. Not to be missed.


September 26, 2009

The Crying Tree, by Naseem Rakha (Pan Macmillan, £12.99)

A gripping, well-paced tale, compassionate without being mawkish.


September 20, 2009

THE CRYING TREE is a fabulous family drama that focuses on what happens to surviving loved ones when a violent unexpected tragedy occurs.


August 22, 2009

A powerful and stunning debut novel...replete with insights into the delicate family dynamics and suppressed emotions of those left behind. Written with wisdom and such sensitivity.

JACQUELINE MITCHARD - Author The Deep End of the Ocean (Amazon review)
I had fallen so under the spell of Naseem Rakha’s voice and plot that I had lost all track of time. The characters were alive. Their choices were wrenching. Their sins and their ignorance were our own.


July 18, 2009

Hauntingly beautiful and sad...Rakha brings hard questions for which there are no black-and-white answers to the fore. Readers are forced to question their own beliefs as Rakha's characters delve into their own.

The Las Vegas Review Journal

July 17, 2009

A powerful novel full of moral questions as well as surprises.


July 12, 2009

More than a novel detailing the oft-chronicled and frequently patsied nature of forgiveness, this is a colorful and creative biography of hate -- about its insidiousness and ferocity but also its fateful familiarity. In ways both subtle and overt, Rakha names it, gives it form and consequence... more


A more common name for the "crying tree" is the willow, and one grows near Steven (Shep) Stanley's grave in Blaine, OR. This 15-year-old was killed in his home, and his best friend, Daniel, has been found guilty of the crime and waits a lethal injection on death row. Gifted musician Shep was definitely the center of the world for his mother, Irene, and the intensity of her grief is exquisitely portrayed in this moving, unsentimental tale of loss. After years of severe depression, withdrawal from her family, and alcoholism, Irene comes to realize that if she does not forgive her son's killer she will be destroyed. She secretly writes to Daniel in prison, and they begin corresponding. Then Irene receives written notice of the execution date and knows she must act. VERDICT Gifted storyteller Rakha has crafted a beautiful and passionate novel that never becomes maudlin or unbelievable. All of the characters are genuinely human, and the author even manages to save a few surprising plot details to the end. Highly recommended, especially for readers interested in the subject of loss and coping.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, New Middletown, OH


This complex, layered story of a family's journey toward justice and forgiveness comes together through spellbinding storytelling. Deputy sheriff Nate Stanley calls home one day and announces he's accepted a deputy post in Oregon. His wife, Irene, resents having to uproot herself and their children, Shep and Bliss, from their small Illinois town, but Nate insists it's for the best. Once they've moved into their new home, Shep sets off to explore Oregon's outdoors, and things seem to be settling in nicely until one afternoon when Nate returns home to find his 15-year-old son beaten and shot in their kitchen. After Shep dies in Nate's arms, the family seeks vengeance against the young man, Daniel Joseph Robbin, accused of Shep's murder. In the 19 years between Shep's death and Daniel's legal execution, Bliss becomes all but a caretaker for her damaged parents, and a crisis pushes Irene toward the truth about what happened to Shep. Most of the big secret is fairly apparent early on, so it's a testament to Rakha's ability to create wonderfully realized characters that the narrative retains its tension to the end. (July)

Newark Star Ledger Summer Round Up

These seven new novels may prompt readers to crave more from these new writers.

Blog Reviews

Pudgy Penguin Perusals

"The raw emotion in this book will grab you by the heart and not let go. I think this is one of the best books I have read this year. Highly recommended. 5*****"

The Bookbag

"Initially I thought that the idea of a mother befriending her son's murderer would be far-fetched and unbelievable, but as the circumstances surrounding Shep's death unravel it not only seems natural - it seems inevitable. It's excellent stuff."

In My Shoes: The Cursor, The Dance, the Hole, the Day
"trying to explain a story like this, a story of grief, is like trying to explain what it feels like to fall in love. Words just fail, no matter how eloquent you try to be."