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The Lion Trees: Part One: Unraveling by Owen…

The Lion Trees: Part One: Unraveling

by Owen Thomas

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An impressive piece of the work, the Lion Trees: Part One provides a close exploration of a quiet, seemingly normal family as their relationships with each other and the world around them rapidly unravel and radically change. A monster of a book to get through, its well worth the time as Thomas is an immensely talented author with clear, articulate prose and meticulously detailed descriptions. The inner workings of the characters, their motivations, desires, thoughts, and emotions are eloquently extracted, pulled apart, and examined in a way that draws the reader further in the novel. I expect wonderful things from this author.

My only criticism is that occasionally some of the vocabulary felt forced rather than flowing naturally, but this did not detract from the quality of the writing. ( )
  ekricci | Oct 5, 2015 |
This epic tome of a novel tells the story of the Johns family--a seemingly mundane Ohioan upper-middle class unit--but one that is teeming with dysfunction and broken relationships. Part of what I loved about this work was how each chapter not only switched to a different character's perspective, but also changed narrative tense. I loved the characters, with all of their flaws and the writing--what can I say but that Owen Thomas is a master of words. It's a long read, but so worth the effort! ( )
  LoveOfMuffins4820 | Oct 2, 2015 |
THE LION TREES" characters are so vividly imprinted that, as soon as I finished Volume I, I started it over because I missed being with them. If you like to underline the great parts of books or to fold corners over, order this in paperback.

From its first lines, Owen Thomas leads readers on a challenging, mysterious and laugh out loud search for some kinds of Truth. Right away, we care - from The Mother of Katrina on into David's strangely compelling rat modes and missteps. Many of us have made a lot of the same mistakes in our early years, but, geez, David makes nearly ALL of them. How can he SOUND so brilliant and ACT so stupid?!?

And yet, his classroom dynamic is inspiring for teacher, old and new.

The rhythm of the pages rarely falters. I've enjoyed reading The Prologue (usually so forgettable) over and over. There's a magic here in the power of the dark light of reality subtly flowing along with jarring discords. Resonance.

Regarding other characters: on moving into Volume 2, my deepest hope is that Angus Mann does not turn out to be a total jerk or die. Most others have shown a darker side, but so far he's my favorite. (Even though he persists in a 'you gotta get IT just the way I'm thinking IT or you just ain't right' attitude. Glad he wasn't The Teacher.) Maybe V.2 will close with him hammering a selfie stick into both plough shares and spears? What does he look like?

Hollis and I went back and forth, then have parted ways until he reconciles his unorthodox ultraconservatism plus Buddhism with his treatment of his tree. The Buddha may be wondering how he veered so far off The Eightfold Path.

It's not all perfect: enough with The Dead Fish, Seinfeld (urp), and obsession with the color yellow...Lt. Miller should count his blessings - at least he won't be stranded with Susan and Jar Jar Binks. On second reading, much of SUSAN got skipped. She was tough to endure the first time around.

Readers may well wish for a Volume III where Sadie journeys to Africa and actually talks with the people, servants and everyone else, and where there are keener observations of buildings, landmarks, scenery, ambience, markets, and insights taken in from the time she sees it all from her plane to when she revisits The Lion Trees. Unlike Tilly and Company, she might really listen to the music and make lifelong friends.

It would be great to see a blockbuster Blackboard Jungle release for next year's School Year. ( )
1 vote m.belljackson | Sep 20, 2015 |
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a story about a dysfunctional family. The characters are very well developed and you can even relate to them in someone you know. That's what makes you continue to read. But the story gets very long and just long. I did complete the two part book but found myself being lulled to sleep over the constant flow of words. I believe this is a good story and could and would have been much more enjoyable in a shorter version. ( )
  thicks | Aug 20, 2015 |
Thanks to Librarything and the author for a free copy of The Lion Trees. This is an epic novel told in two parts, Unraveling and Awakening, and I loved every minute of it.

This is the story of a very dysfunctional family with chapters alternating from the point of view of four of the family members. How dysfunctional is this family? David, the adult son not living at home, sneaks his younger brother out of the house through his bedroom window for a night out at the movies, all to avoid seeing his parents.

We begin and end the novel with Matilda at the end of her life, reflecting as Tilly on her younger years as a Hollywood actress, famous for her steamy offscreen behaviour. These chapters are in first person past tense. Hollis, her father, is struggling to adapt to retirement. His chapters are told from a third person perspective in the past tense. Susan his wife is the main caregiver for their special needs child Ben and is struggling with her role in their marriage. Her chapters are all written in dialogue. They are so well done that there is no confusion as to who is talking even though there is no he said or she said.

David, the oldest child is a very conscientious high school high school teacher who is always putting his concerns for his students before his own, much to his detriment. At one point I had to put the book down in frustration at his actions. His chapters are told in first person present tense. Although Ben is given only one chapter of his own of internal dialogue which gives us some further insight into his character, he is a very important character which holds the family together.

The differing set up for each character's chapters was brought to my attention while reading a review after I had read the book. It was so well done that I must confess, I hadn't noticed. I had to go back and skim over the chapters to see for myself.
As well as great characterization, there is a suspenseful plot, lots of interesting historical, and political information, interesting facts about Hollywood, and a science fiction story woven into the storyline. Yes, this is a lengthy read, but well worth the effort. ( )
  paulamc | Aug 19, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0692235906, Paperback)

What happens when you get the life you aim for and it hurts like hell?

The Johns family is unraveling. Hollis, a retired Ohio banker, isolates himself in esoteric hobbies and a dangerous flirtation with a colleague’s daughter. Susan, his wife of forty years, risks everything for a second chance at who she might have become. David, their eldest, thrashes to stay afloat as his teaching career capsizes in a storm of accusations involving a missing student and the legacy of Christopher Columbus. And young Tilly, the black sheep, having traded literary promise for an improbable career as a Hollywood starlet, struggles to define herself amid salacious scandal, the demands of a powerful director, and the judgments of an uncompromising writer.

By turns comical and poignant, the Johns family is tumbling toward the discovery that sometimes you have to let go of your identity to find out who you are.

[A] cerebral page turner…a powerful and promising debut.—Kirkus Reviews

[Five Stars]…[A] powerful, gripping and realistic story…The Lion Trees does what so very few great novels can: it will take a lot out of you, but leave you with much more than you had when you began Pacific Book Reviews, a five star review.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

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