The Hanging Tree: Michael Phillip Cash
Young girls after reading The Hanging Tree will hopefully come away with some lessons in life that might protect them from mistreatment, being used and forced into situations that they normally should never consider. All too often not every young teenage boy but some will use his looks, his desires and his ability to persuade a young teenage girl to give in to his own personal wishes stating that if she really cares for him she won’t say know. But, also knowing full well that when she does he will move on to the next. Teenager Arielle and her boyfriend Chad decide to take their relationship to the next step. Promising that she would not back out on him and hoping that she would give him to his male wishes, Chad does not deal well with Arielle’s change of heart. Before leaving for their date and she her father get into a slight altercation and he warns her that dating Chad would be a mistake. With her parents divorced and her father the dominant parent Arielle rebels as many teens do when parents claim to know best. But, there are other forces that will control the events as we see Arielle sitting and leaning under a hanging tree waiting for Chad’s friend to show up even though she asks to be taken home. But, there are several spirits that are locked within this tree and have been engulfed and imprisoned within the tree because of a curse. The story in the present takes place in Oyster Bay, Long Island where Arielle will have to face the decisions and consequences of those decisions while readers hear and meet the five historical characters whose stories are shared and whose fates have been decided or have they? Reaching back into the past as far as 1649 and moving ahead to the 1900’s these five different characters will tell their stories to you the reader as the Hanging Tree and its beautiful branches takes us back in time to find out just what lessons were learned, those that still need to be learned and how a curse must be eliminated in order to bring peace to those captured within the tree.
Each spirit has his/her own story yet two are not really told. One is the granddaughter of Goody a midwife or healer maybe even a witch. When going to help a young woman give birth to a child she loses both mother and child and faces the wrath of many. Added in Claire, a young spirit and her granddaughter comes face to face with deceit, lies and a Reverend whose only interest in her is the same one that Chad has for Arielle. Innocent, naïve and yet actually believing in love both Claire and Arielle have many lessons to learn. Hearing Goody’s story and learning what might have caused the curse plus Martin and Arthur’s friendship and what happens to them the author creates suspense in that we are not sure just how these five will impact the teens in the present nor do we know if the reader and the two teens will be held captive by the tree. Where did the curse originate? Why are these five spirits locked within the tree? How does Goody Bennett use her magic you might say to try and teach Chad a lesson of respect in the present? Hear her words, listen to her story and you decide if she warranted her fate? Would you call her a witch or just someone sentenced to death because two men felt she deserved it? But, the hanging tree encompasses and has many others within it that we don’t see but whose stories have not been told as the author creates an ending that we hope will teach young girls like Claire and Arielle how to understand lies, deceit and use their own common sense when someone forces you to do something you know is wrong. Goody caused the curse to originate but who was if anyone releases it? Martin whose stepfather has his life mapped out and he and Arthur die in a car crash moving the story into the 1900’s and whose dialogue is quite comical. Let’s not forget the Gibson girl whose story you can briefly learn about and just who is Muriel and what is the secret held in the Hanging Tree?
When Arielle finally sees more than the light and understands her family heritage she just might learn that the Harmond family curse dates back to someone within the tree close to her. Five spirits each one reliving their pasts and hopefully ending something that could be tragic in the present. Arielle and Chad find themselves at a crossroads and although she realizes he is not right for her what happens when his friend shows up might endanger more than just Arielle. Realizing for the first time that Arielle is rebelling against him for finding someone else in his life, what does Belinda, his wife do to enlighten him? But, will he understand or will it be too late? The choices made are our own, as Arielle needs to learn. With a mother who left her and a father who finds another will she find what she wants with Chad under the Hanging Tree or will she realize that some roads need to be taken slowly? Goody Bennett has a special healing power but will she use it in the present to change the past? Will the souls be released? What really happened to Claire and when she realized the Reverend was not coming back what did Goody do? Who would turn to help them and who betrayed them both? A Reverend who thought he was never wrong and you wonder how many more he abused. Why did the townsfolk want to rid themselves of Goody? What happened to her cat? The Hanging Tree: Can you hear the voices within it? Will they ever be at peace? One short novella. One interesting story and many lessons to be learned.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews