Fourteen-year-old March Wong knows everything there is to know about trees. They are his passion and his obsession, even after his recent falls—and despite the state’s threat to take him away from his mother if she can’t keep him from getting hurt. But the young autistic boy cannot resist the captivating pull of the Pacific Northwest’s lush forests just outside his back door.
One day, March is devastated to learn that the Eagle Tree—a monolithic Ponderosa Pine near his home in Olympia—is slated to be cut down by developers. Now, he will do anything in his power to save this beloved tree, including enlisting unlikely support from relatives, classmates, and even his bitter neighbor. In taking a stand, March will come face-to-face with some frightening possibilities: Even if he manages to save the Eagle Tree, is he risking himself and his mother to do it?
Intertwining themes of humanity and ecology, The Eagle Tree eloquently explores what it means part of a family, a society, and the natural world that surrounds and connects us.
Peter, who goes by his middle name March, Wong absolutely loves trees. He knows everything about them - their latin names, how to identify them, their importance to the ecosystem and much, much more. March also loves to climb trees. He climbs at least three trees a day. It's his love of trees that gets him to trouble but makes him stand out.
March doesn't have that many people he trusts or even talks to. He has his mother who is feeling overwhelmed and is facing the potential of him leaving her custody. He has his Uncle who indulges his love of climbing trees. He has Ilsa who he likes despite her being a minister who believes in God when he doesn't. And he has Pierre who is a professor who understands and teaches him things about trees. He also has his dad... but his dad left to Arizona. He misses his father but he doesn't want to go to Arizona which his mother keeps warning him about. Where his mother wants to take him in Arizona there are no trees and the idea of not climbing trees is abhorrent to March.
March, who loves trees and knows so much about them is unique in one other way, he's autistic. So he will get very loud and flap his arms when he is distressed. He is supposed to learn to give himself checks so he can control his emotions. He has a lot of rules of what he is not supposed to do which includes something he believes he must do once he sees it the first time - climb the Eagle Tree. But he may not get to do that because the tree is on private property and the owner wants to cut down the tree. March makes a plan to save the tree and then finally climb it. He'll need the people closest to him, some new friends, and his knowledge of trees to save the Eagle Tree.
I once knew a little boy in a classroom. I didn't realize there was anything different about him until he was pointed out. Then I could tell and I noticed how his speaking voice was loud and he never really could do what he was told. It's interesting that I would read The Eagle Tree after my experience with the little boy because I don't think I ever would have cared or understood or want to understand about March like I did when I read his story. I've always liked that books can do that - connect with your real life and what someone typed on some pages. Also, it can help you gain more perspective on someone's own perspective on life. Seeing life through March's eyes felt eye-opening to me because I felt like I knew a little more about that little boy I met in a classroom.
March's knowledge of trees was so vast. Everything had to be logical for him, true, which was why I wasn't surprised he didn't believe in God. A lot of logical people I've met have felt the same because according to him he can believe in trees because "I can touch them. And they have true names, They change only slowly over the course of years, and they do not change in terms of what they say to me." I thought it was interesting to see that religion slightly played a role in this book. And in the end, trees are so important which March tries to communicate so much. Trees are life. Without trees, we couldn't live.
"I suddenly felt that I like Ilsa very much, even though I do not believe in God. I felt like standing up and shouting out to Ilsa that she was right. But I tried hard and I resisted the urge to stand up and shout. She was telling people to look at trees. We should all look at trees. All the time."
March's love of trees and his want to climb a particular tree led him without really knowing it to improve his life for the better. He got to meet people who cared about trees. There was one instance that gave me so much joy when he met someone that he could talk to about trees his own age and they could, in turn, talk about something they had great knowledge of. Even if a lot of the information about trees that March gave went over my head, I was still able to decipher the meaning behind what he wanted and needed to communicate.
I really enjoyed the talk about trees. It's made me worried about how we've all gone away from nature. It worries me that we are destroying everything and one day there will no trees left so thanks for that March! The Eagle Tree also made me see life through a new perspective which I always enjoy when it comes to books. Even though the author scared me half to death a couple of times when it came to March, I loved his writing. It was perfect for telling March and the Eagle Tree's story.
About the Author
Ned Hayes holds an MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. His historical novel, Sinful Folk, was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.
The Eagle Tree is based on his past experience working with children on the autistic spectrum and on family and friends he knows and loves. He lives with his wife and children in Olympia, Washington.
More about Ned Hayes can be found at NedNote.com. Connect with him on Twitter.
Thanks to Little A, Ned Hayes, and TLC Book Tours for providing me with The Eagle Tree in exchange for an honest review!