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The Willow Tree Paperback – January 20, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Ms. Carson's lyrical prose weaves a lovely, haunting tale in The Willow Tree. Emma's intimidation by and fear of her step-father saddened me. I identified with the loneliness of an outsider walking the crowded halls of her high school years. As a young woman, her yearning for fulfillment splattered the pages with longing. I wish I could say that Emma finds true love and fulfillment, or that this story ends like a fairy tale. Nonetheless, as in real life, the tale ends where it begins with memories that can't be packed away."- Reader's Favorite
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Elan Carson (January 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991314611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991314614
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,382,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
**I received a free copy of this book from author in return for a review.**

Well, let's start by saying that this isn't a book for the faint of heart. It deals in hyper-realistic abuse and tragedy and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I was abused myself as a child. The opening of this book brought a flood of memories and heartache.

She captures the sense of loss and worthlessness incredibly well, she doesn't leave out a single thing, which is surprising, since the description of Elan above, in her "About the Author" section doesn't seem to indicate anything about her having been abused; I'm assuming this was written with the help of someone who was. The images portrayed, the feelings discussed... These don't come from an idle mind wondering "What must it be like?" These are raw, real emotions and not for people with a weak stomach.

Elan has a wonderful way with words. The way she writes seems to flow from one page to the next. You don't read this book, you're pulled along by it. Moments come up when you need to go do something and you suppress it, make time for it later, simply to keep reading.

One thing I didn't really buy was the ostracizing behavior exhibited by the 'black culture' of Detroit that was showcased, for several reasons.

Firstly, I am from St. Louis. I went to East St. Louis, which is far worse on it's best day than Detroit on it's worst. Nine murders a night in a city an eighth of the size. I knew plenty of black people who preferred to hang with white people, they got some jeers and jabs, but at the end of the day, they were still black. They were still loved by their black friends and family.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Willow Tree by Elan Carson is a sorrow filled story about Emma, an awkward and abused young lady. Her step father leaves permanent scars upon her soul as he takes her innocence replacing it with haunting pain and nightmares. The novel covers several years span in Emma’s life from junior high through college. She flounders to make friends, always strives to be a “cool kid”, and has a deep desire for a boyfriend. She awkwardly foils every attempt to fit in, although it seems that would be her own insecurities, and lack of confidence. Her own self- destructive voice mimicking that she isn’t good enough.

Emma’s struggles aren’t unlike the average teenage girl who seeks to be something more than what she is, who pursues popularity and acceptance, and desires to be beautiful and admired. The years that she was abused physically, mentally and sexually forced deep pitted gashes inside the twisted crevasses of her mind. They control her, pushing her to depression, and actions that place her on the edge; reminding her that she is alive, putting pain into her numbness.

Elan Carson uses a lyrical sing songy poetic tone in her writing. The images flow easily from one page to the next within visual scenes drawn by the words of the text. The novel places the reader front and center in Emma’s horrific world where they witness her pain, suffering and anger but also her unnatural feelings towards her step father as both a “lover” and a torturer. Few authors have such a profound ability to illustrate emotions, and feelings bringing the reader on an impassioned journey with the protagonist.

The Willow Tree is a novel I envision as a beloved paperback; crinkled edges, sagging binding, countless pages twisted over in a familiar book marking pattern, and borrowing disallowed by the owner in fear of it not being returned. This novel is timeless and will be endeared every bit as much in a hundred years as it is today.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Elan Carson's The Willow Tree, follows the story of our protagonist as she struggles to navigate life through a sea of unfortunate life events and misfortune. What really shines through here is how raw and real the feelings toward the protagonist become. You genuinely feel bad for her through all the abuse she suffered from her step father Adam. You feel how messed up she's become from it, and you feel how desperate she is to fit in. That's probably the most relatable thing about Emma. No one understands her, and she tries so hard to fit in. I'm sure there is more than a couple people who can relate (this reviewer included).

Where the story falls short for me is that it is over written, needlessly purple prosey, and exhaustively introspective. There were many chapters, especially in the beginning of the story where Emma is playing lingual gymnastics with how metaphorically she can relay her feelings or a brutal act that the scene and the characters become completely lost. I began to wonder after several paragraphs where we were and who we're with, only to find myself not really caring all that much when the story finally clued me in paragraphs latter. This aspect greatly improves as we move from Emma's high school life to college life, but it's definitely an uphill sludge to get there and there are still instances where it creeps back in drastically slowing the pace the story.
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