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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Space Between Trees Compelling, Disturbing Look at Dealing With Grief (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Rest in peace, that's what we say when we speak to the dead, and then we hold our breath and wait for them to whisper the same words back to us" (274).

It's not as if Evie and Zabet McCabe were really friends. Sure, they played together as children, but now, at 16, they would have been hard-pressed to identify each other's favorite color, food, or t.v. show. Still, when Evie sees the body of her old playmate rolled out of the woods on a stretcher, she feels something. It's not grief, exactly, more like fascination. Or maybe excitement. Being on the scene when a murder was discovered gives Evie something she can use - to reel in her classmates' attention, to start a real conversation with the guy she's been crushing on, to divert some of the drama to herself. She doesn't mean to steal Zabet's BFF, doesn't mean to befriend her grieving father, and definitely does not intend to track down a killer. But that's exactly what happens.

I'm not really sure how to describe Katie Williams' debut novel, The Space Between Trees. Although it deals with a brutal death, it's not exactly a murder mystery. More like a psychological thriller, except not totally. However difficult it is to pinpoint the book's genre, it's even harder to explain my reaction to the book. It kept me reading, but I can't say I really enjoyed it. This mostly has to do with Evie - she's emotionless, manipulative, and just, disturbed. The back cover describes her as a "quirky loner." Personally, I'd go with sociopath. Just like she can't connect with others, I never really got her. This disconnect, combined with a bleak plot, mostly unsympathetic characters, and an overall strangeness, made The Space Between Trees a weird read for me.

Williams writes well, there's no doubt about that, and her freshman effort gave me plenty of food for thought. She gets kudos for creating original, if not exactly likable, characters, who are interesting and complex. Watching the ways in which these very different people grieve - or, in Evie's case, use another's tragedy to further their own purposes - is what makes this book so compelling. And disturbing.

So, yeah. I'm still not sure quite what to think of The Space Between Trees. While the writing is solid, the rest of it really didn't do it for me. Maybe I need a more relatable narrator, maybe I need a happier story, I don't know, but I'll definitely be watching for Williams' next effort and hoping it's more my style.

(Readalikes: Reminds me a little of I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells and a teensy bit of House Rules by Jodi Picoult)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language, violence, sexual content and depictions of underrage drinking/drug use

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Space Between Trees from the generous folks at Chronicle Books. Thank you!


Now for the fun part: Chronicle Books is giving away one signed copy of The Space Between Trees to a lucky BBB reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post indicating that you'd like to win the book. The contest will close on August 12 and is only open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. Good luck!


  1. I would love to win this!
    tiffanyniekro at gmail dot com

  2. Yes...please consider me entered. This one sounds interesting.

  3. This book sounds great. I would love to be entered.

    katieb206 at gmail dot com

  4. I’d love to win this book!

  5. Please count me in.

    teresasreadincorner at gmail dot com

  6. This sounds like an interesting read. I'd love to win it. I enjoy your blog, especially your grades, and read a likes.


    l_ridgley at hotmail dot com

  7. Sure! Throw my hat in the ring for the drawing. This does sound like an oddly book but oddly compelling and atmospheric, maybe? Maybe it's just the cover making me think so.

    Great review!


  8. And that should've said "odd book and oddly compelling".

    Wednesday is typo day!

  9. i'm very curious about this! please count me in. nice review.

    lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

  10. This book sounds very interesting. I tend to like edgy, multi-layered female characters like Lisbeth Salander and Olive Kitteridge, so I'm looking forward to meeting "Evie". Please enter me in the book giveaway contest. Thanks, Beth

  11. Sounds odd and interesting. I hope I win!!

  12. Enter me please! When you said "quirky loner" that made me think of an aspie (someone with Asperger's), then your reference to it being a tiny bit like House Rules really makes me want to read this.

    nicolama at cogeco dot ca

  13. I would love to win this. Thanks for the chance!


  14. Your review entices me to check it out for myself! I would love to win this book. Thanks for the opportunity.

  15. Excellent review. I think that most of us want a character we can like and tend to not like a book when we don't. I do like how you mentioned this in your review.

    I found you blog looking for reviews on When the Black Girl Sings and hope to return soon.

  16. I would like to enter the contest contact me at
    FieryIceFantasy 'at' hotmail 'dot' com

  17. Hey editor Stacy Whitman is trying to find book clean book recommendations for an LDS YW leader, who is trying to start a library for the girls in her ward. It sounds like the ward is really urban and diverse. Do you want to take a crack at recommending some books for them?

    You can find Stacy's post at

  18. That sounds very interesting. At least it's something different. I'd like to try it out.
    reddyrat at gmail dot com
    Alison Can Read

  19. i'm interested in reading this book...thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  20. Enter me please.
    cparkins14 AT

  21. Jessica Manning08 August, 2010 01:22

    I would love to win this book!

    gjmanning at wildblue dot net

  22. I'd like to win this book. It sounds like something I'd enjoy.



Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

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