Title: The Memory Tree
Author: Glenn Haybittle
Release date: 30th March 2017
Reading Time: 5-7 Hours
2048: Alowa searches for a boy called Solstice and her lost memories. 2010: Zinnia travels to Italy to uncover her family’s past. 1945: Max falls in love with a Jewish girl as the Nazis invade. 1890: Weayaya dances the ghost dance to save her son’s life. Four narratives, one path through time and heritage.
As soon as I had read the description of The Memory Tree, I knew that I had to read it! Interlocking narratives, set in different time periods, telling one story… Sounded like a match made in heaven!
The first part of the novel tells the story of Alowa and Solstice in 2048, and it’s set in an post-apocalyptic world controlled by UniCorp. Taking up almost half of the novel, this part is both the longest, and hardest to get through. You have to work hard to get through it, as it’s quite chaotic. This post-apocalyptic world is confusing, and there’s little insight into the hows and whys of it- it just is. The narrative tumbles through the pages almost without purpose. The writing style is wild, outrageous and often whimsical. The descriptions are beautifully captivating, but also hard to follow. To be honest, I never really understood what the hell was going on; I just rolled with it. Perhaps I should have worked harder, but there’s only so much you can do before you’re pulled out of the narrative all together.
The second part, which tells the story of Zinnia and her son Felix, was more enjoyable. The whimsical writing style is still present, and it reads beautifully now that it’s following a clear path. The characterisation of 10 year old Felix was perfectly executed, as was the one of Max, in part three. I dare you not to fall in love with these boys.
The narrative for Max’s story is even better. Part three was probably my favourite out of all six, and the one with the biggest emotional resonance. My heart just kept breaking for Max, from the moment he is introduced, to long after his story has ended. The passage describing Max’s possessions being searched and seized before he boards the ship to Italy will stay with me for a long time.
The final three parts really tie up the first three, providing details and insights that complete all four stories, and even shed some light into that chaotic first part. The ending is short and abrupt, and doesn’t provide all the answers. The novel may end here, but it’s clear the story doesn’t. However, this works. A few more chapters would have felt unnecessary; you know what happens next, even if you’re not told explicitly.
The Memory Tree is imaginative, well written and fast paced, but it won’t be for everyone. If you’re looking for an easy read, The Memory Tree is not for you. But if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll find this a rewarding read.
TL,DR: An Imaginative, fast paced, but at times confusing read, not for the faint of heart.
*I received this ARC free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*