In the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, there is a chapter dedicated to Junior and his friend Rowdy going out into woods and climb this tree that they climb all the time. Alexie waxed poetically about the trees in the Pacific North West. Being from that area, it made me super nostalgic.
So when we decided to read a book about a boy in Olympia who likes to climb trees, it was obviously going to make me just as happy right?
To quote the late, great Charlie Murphy,
What the hell even was this book? A textbook about trees, and ecosystems, and burying cooked ass salmon, and shit? This is not what I was hoping to read.
The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes is about a boy named March who has autism who perceives the world around him in tree terms. When he learns that his favorite tree is danger, he sets about trying to save it. The book also explores the struggles people close to an autistic boy would face, such as what his mother, teacher, and other mentors have to deal with when interacting with him.
Full disclosure, I’ve never knowingly interacted with anyone with autism. I don’t know anything about how they deal with their surroundings. So, to say I got nothing out of reading this book, wouldn’t be wholly truthful. I gained more insight into the thought process of someone with autism and what their friends and family have to deal with on a daily basis.
I have nothing but love for those people, I always knew they had it rough, but if March is an accurate depiction, they’re outright super heroes.
I also learned I’m probably going to hell. March exhibits strange behaviors and requires even weirder behavior from his mother in order to calm down. This happens before you learn that he has autism, so in my own defense I was laughing before I knew, ok.
I still felt super bad about it though.
Overall Grade: C+
If you are someone who would like to read a book written from the perspective of an autistic teenager, then you might like The Eagle Tree.
If you are someone looking to read a book about trees, I’m sure there are other nature books that will do a better job making you homesick for the Pacific Northwest.