Summary: Sorrow Lovegood’s life has been shaped by the stories of the women who came before her: brave, resilient women who settled long ago on a mercurial apple orchard in Vermont. The land has been passed down through generations, and Sorrow and her family take pride in its strange history. Their offbeat habits may be ridiculed by other townspeople—especially their neighbors, the Abrams family—but for the first eight years of her life, the orchard is Sorrow’s whole world.
Then one winter night everything changes. Sorrow’s sister Patience is tragically killed. Their mother suffers a mental breakdown. Sorrow is sent to live with her dad in Miami, away from the only home she’s ever known.
Now sixteen, Sorrow’s memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy; even the details of her sister’s death are unclear. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. Why has her mother kept her distance over the years? What actually happened the night Patience died? Is the orchard trying to tell her something, or is she just imagining things?
Sorrow Lovegood is haunted by her family’s past, so it’s only fitting that Kali Wallace’s beautiful, atmospheric writing will absolutely haunt the reader. Wallace plunks the reader into the rivalries, both petty and great, of Abrams Valley, and explores the ways hatred and anger play out over generations. Sorrow is a girl at a crossroads, needing to process her past in order to move on, but so scarred by it that she has blocked out the parts she most needs to understand. Stories of Lovegood women throughout the years punctuate the narrative as they have punctuated Sorrow’s life – tales of strong woman who grew and maintained the orchard that has been their family’s livelihood for generations, who were buried in the cemetery where an ash tree has been planted for each grave. Women who were persecuted, and often accused of witchcraft, because they were strong and independent. Magical elements are taken as a given, so entwined are they in Sorrow’s life: of course the earth mourns with cold when a Lovegood dies; of course the favors Sorrow finds in the orchard – a broken pair of glasses, a pocket watch, a bead on a string – are gifts from the dead. Though there is pain, there is also hope; the only answers, Sorrow learns, are the ones that she and her generation will shape for themselves out of the grief, pain, and joy that have been handed down to them.
THE MEMORY TREES is out now.