Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone

Synopsis from the Publisher: Michel Stone’s debut novel, set against the backdrop of illegal immigration, is one family’s story of fateful decisions, risky border crossings, and a struggle for humanity. With a dream of a more prosperous life for his family, Héctor crosses into America on a harrowing journey in a welded-shut metal compartment under a delivery truck, making his way to job on a tree farm on Edisto Island, SC. He tells Lilia, his young wife, to stay behind with her newborn until he can pay for her travel. Impulsive and impatient, Lilia abandons her village, hands off her baby to a smuggler who should not have been trusted, and swims the dark Rio Grande. The tragedy unfolds across the southern United States. As Michel Stone weaves her tale of hope and human dignity, of sorrow and suffering, we see not only the devastating consequences of Lilia’s and Héctor’s decisions, but the consequences of decisions we have made as a society and as a nation. With its themes of loss, betrayal, and redemption, The Iguana Tree has the resonance of myth.

When TLC approached me with The Iguana Tree, by Michel Stone, I took a few minutes to think about it. The synopsis is certainly convincing, but this book is squarely outside of my usual reading choices. The perils of U.S. border crossing is not a topic I thought I'd be keen to read, even though it's a huge issue in my state of Texas. Ultimately I chose to accept the book for exactly these reasons...that it is outside my usual choices, and I wanted to push myself. 

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that I've not yet finished the book (about halfway through). It is NOT the fault of Michel Stone or her gripping writing. It's a problem that's a little embarrassing -- the type is really small! I kid y'all not, I opened it, started reading the beautifully crafted prose, and my eyes crossed. 

I blame this new development on a couple of things:
1. I never go to the eye doctor as I should. I haven't needed to wear glasses since I was 11 years old, BUT...
2. A job on computers all day and night has made my eyes much more tired lately and prone to strain.
3. I'm spoiled to Nook books where I can make the type larger. This issue never even crossed my mind as a possibility.

For these reasons, I've been taking it slow, but I am thoroughly enjoying the book. Lilia and Hector's plight grabbed me right off the bat, and Stone's deft hand at describing the atmosphere and landscape helped me become quickly invested in the story. While it is harsh at times, harrowing indeed, the writing adds a glaze of beauty over the whole thing. While the stories are nothing alike, it reminds me a little bit of how I felt read The Hours. A heavy story but beautiful nonetheless. 

Win a Copy!
That said, I have some goodies in store! One lucky reader will win a copy of The Iguana Tree. All you have to do is leave a comment. 

My thanks to Hub City Press for providing a giveaway book. I also need to put in a plug for this delightful publisher. When I received the book it was wonderfully packaged with some goodies and extras like a great bookmark. The book itself is also a beautiful edition. It's hefty, sturdily made, and the paper is good quality. I blame my eyes on the slow reading, completely.

See the book trailer below. :)

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