I’ve been thinking long and hard about this book for reasons I’ll mention soon. You might remember my discussion about problematic content, well, I thought this book was problematic.
T is for Tree by Greg Fowler
Eddy knows he’s not like other teenagers. He doesn’t look like them. He doesn’t think like them. He doesn’t go to school or have friends like they do. Eddy’s not even allowed to leave his bedroom – except on shower day of course. He doesn’t know why; all Eddy knows is that he’s different.
Abandoned by his mother and kept locked away by his grandmother, Eddy must spend his life watching the world go by from his bedroom window. Until Reagan Crowe moves in next door and everything starts to change. She’s kind, funny, beautiful, and most importantly, she’s Eddy’s first friend. Over time, Reagan introduces Eddy to the strange and wonderful world outside his bedroom: maths, jam, love.
But growing up isn’t that simple for either of them. And Eddy has a secret. The tree that’s slowly creeping in through his window from the garden is no ordinary tree. But then again, Eddy’s no ordinary boy. He’s special…
Set over the course of five years, T is for Tree is moving, life-affirming, and shows that we can all find greatness in the small things.
The thing is, I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. There were things that bothered me about it but I only started thinking more about it after I had finished the book. T is for Tree is a book about a boy with Down Syndrome, which is not once mentioned in the book or the synopsis. Eddy is described as dumb, stupid and weird, not only by others but also by himself. Eddy is a sweet boy and I really liked him, however, other aspects of the story really weren’t okay to me.
“Statues were cold, hard and unfeeling and that’s just how she needed to be. Anything less than that would see her world come tumbling down around her.”
Eddy has been locked in his room for his entire life, is emotionally abused by his grandmother and has to spend almost his entire childhood alone in his room. I thought the whole thing about his grandmother was very problematic. At a certain point in the story, she finally realizes this is no way to treat a child and changes her ways. However, she NEVER has any consequences of her actions. She mistreated a child for 15(?) years and by some miracle stopped, and says sorry and is forgiven??? That only promotes the idea that abuse is okay and should be forgiven, if it has a “reason”. No, sorry, I don’t condone this.
“Life was all about circles, not squares. Squares had ends, hard, sharp ends that refused to budge. Circles, on the other hand, never ended, they just kept renewing themselves.”
Another aspect that really bothered me, was the fact that Eddy is intellectually impaired but by the help of some magical he gets incredibly smart. How about no. Let’s not. Eddy might not be smart, but having some magical tree make him smart, which results in praise and therefore makes Eddy believes he is a good person, is not okay. You can still be loved if you’re not smart and I hate that the book promotes the opposite of this.
Lastly, (I promise I’ll stop ranting soon) I hated the ending. Over the duration of this book, Eddy becomes friends with Reagan, the girl next door. He is in love with her, but she doesn’t love him back, but they stay friends. *SPOILERS IN WHITE* Reagan gets really sick in the end and is going to die, but then Eddy sacrifices himself to save her. *END OF SPOILERS* I like that he loves her so much to do this for her, but again it promotes such bad ideas: that disabled kids’ lives are worth less than not-disabled kids’ lives. And also this whole thing is so vague, nothing is described, it just happens?? That is actually the fact for so many things that happen in this book.
“The world was indeed filled with magic and wonder if you were only able to see it. And Eddy saw it now.”
So conclusion. I liked this book and I actually really liked the writing style, but it was so problematic that I just can’t give it more than 2 stars. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book for all the reasons I mentioned above.