With an appealing mix of spooky suspense and comedy, Bone Tree tackles a serious, delicate subject: dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Sixth-graders Roman and Elsie are best friends. Tragedy strikes when Roman is diagnosed with leukemia. A visit to the local cemetery gets them acquainted with the legend of the bone tree, where an unlucky woman was buried centuries before. One can supposedly revive a dead person by burying heirlooms at the foot of the tree, so when Roman passes away, grieving Elsie buries her deceased grandmother’s jewelry in the hopes of resuscitating him.
Roman’s spirit does indeed appear, but Elsie’s joy is short-lived; a vengeful spirit in the tree is tormenting not only his soul, but also the ghosts who owned the heirlooms that are buried under the tree. Soon Elsie is witnessing these souls’ pain, as they’re forced to relive the moments of their deaths again and again. With the help of a feisty librarian and Roman’s older brother Jake, Elsie must set things right—with the potential risk of losing Roman forever.
Jenna Lehne’s fast-paced, propulsive story includes a healthy amount of scares, humor, and pathos. Elsie makes for an appealing and relatable heroine. While Bone Tree might be an adventure, its true heart lies in Elsie’s journey from grief to acceptance. With sensitivity and realism, Lehne depicts how the loss of one person can have an impact on a multitude of family and friends.
While its supernatural elements are entertaining and provide some spine-tingling moments, Bone Tree isn’t just another creepy thriller-comedy. It ultimately makes a poignant, stirring statement about treasuring life, coming to terms with death, and moving on.
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