The Which Way Tree
The poignant odyssey of a tenacious young girl who braves the dangers of the Texas frontier to avenge her mother’s deathEarly one morning in the remote hill country of Texas, a panther savagely attacks a family of homesteaders, mauling a young girl named Samantha and killing her mother, whose final act is to save her daughter’s life. Samantha and her half brother, Benjamin, survive, but she is left traumatized, her face horribly scarred. Narrated in Benjamin’s beguilingly plainspoken voice, The Which Way Tree is the story of Samantha’s unshakeable resolve to stalk and kill the infamous panther, rumored across the Rio Grande to be a demon, and avenge her mother’s death. In their quest she and Benjamin, now orphaned, enlist a charismatic Tejano outlaw and a haunted, compassionate preacher with an aging but relentless tracking dog. As the members of this unlikely posse hunt the panther, they are in turn pursued by a hapless but sadistic Confederate soldier with troubled family ties to the preacher and a score to settle. In the tradition of the great pursuit narratives, The Which Way Tree is a breathtaking saga of one steadfast girl’s revenge against an implacable and unknowable beast. Yet with the comedic undertones of Benjamin’s storytelling, it is also a timeless tale full of warmth and humor, and a testament to the enduring love that carries a sister and brother through a perilous adventure with all the dimensions of a legend.

The Which Way Tree Details

TitleThe Which Way Tree
Author
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN-139780316434959
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Westerns, Contemporary

The Which Way Tree Review

  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Elizabeth Crook spoke to me in a mid 19th century Texas drawl. So earthly, I could taste it. The Civil War era was one of my favorite times in American history. Life was different back then. Long before many of the modern conveniences we've grown accustomed to. I suppose that's what folks will be saying when they look back to the 21st century. The author delivered a rousing, well-written narrative in this character-driven storyline. I couldn't help but get tangled up with the main characters. Th Elizabeth Crook spoke to me in a mid 19th century Texas drawl. So earthly, I could taste it. The Civil War era was one of my favorite times in American history. Life was different back then. Long before many of the modern conveniences we've grown accustomed to. I suppose that's what folks will be saying when they look back to the 21st century. The author delivered a rousing, well-written narrative in this character-driven storyline. I couldn't help but get tangled up with the main characters. There was just no getting out of their way. Suited me fine. The action was set on one long slow fuse. Burned with anticipation of a big bang. I was not disappointed.Just a few years before the start of the brutal Civil War, in the back hills of Texas, Samantha Shreve, age six was viciously mauled by a panther. Her mother had valiantly come to her rescue only to suffer mortal wounds in the melee. Though Samantha survived, her face was left a mask of horror. Older brother Benjamin, age eight, could offer little help in fending off the enraged big cat. That guilt weighed heavily upon his shoulders. Samantha always talked and dreamed about exacting her revenge on that four-legged scourge of the West. That's all she lived for. Waiting for the showdown to come. It would. Woman against Panther. Only one would survive.My thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    A pleasantly surprising, fun, unique, engaging, and, ultimately, gratifying novel (in the truest sense of the word, with bonus points for its novelty). And don't be surprised if this ends up on the big screen (sooner rather than later, but more on that below).Texas (which is obviously Crook's stomping ground) after the Civil War is the backdrop for this coming-of-age, epic revenge-based quest/crusade, period piece that offers a story within a story, each of which, to some extent, stands nicely a A pleasantly surprising, fun, unique, engaging, and, ultimately, gratifying novel (in the truest sense of the word, with bonus points for its novelty). And don't be surprised if this ends up on the big screen (sooner rather than later, but more on that below).Texas (which is obviously Crook's stomping ground) after the Civil War is the backdrop for this coming-of-age, epic revenge-based quest/crusade, period piece that offers a story within a story, each of which, to some extent, stands nicely alone. My sense is the publisher saw an analogy to True Grit, which somewhat recently enjoyed a renaissance and renewed level of interest, but that undersells the work. Sure, much of the art here lies in Crook finding (and perfecting) the narrator's voice (which she explains in the acknowledgements). My sense is that some readers may initially struggle to buy into the narrator's authenticity, but if they give up, that will be their loss. (I'm reminded of the number of times folks have told me that they never embraced (or felt or heard) the cadence and lilt and inflection that constitutes the magic of Hillary Mantel's exquisite Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies,; if you can't hear the voice, I have no doubt both books are a disappointing slog. But ... but ... once you hear the music..., oh my!) Here, once you let go, give yourself over, and (of course) suspend your disbelief, and you begin hearing Benjamin's voice, the story merrily sings along.Serious reader's tip: after you've read the book, don't skip the author's acknowledgements, particularly the passage about the author's inspiration for the book. If you don't feel a tingle up your spine, we're not cut from the same cloth. And sure, it's fun to know whether the story is destined for the big screen (or at least something on cable)? It sure sounds like it, and it's fun to think about casting the production. (Would Robert Duvall play Preacher Dob? Frankly, my preference would be Judge Carlton (although that would require a slightly different spin on the story, but Peter Falk's brilliant role in The Princess Bride immediately comes to mind).)This book was dramatically different, and significantly more compact (OK, shorter) than the other Crook novels I've read, but every bit as entertaining. I didn't read it in one sitting but, if my schedule had been more flexible, I'm confident I could have (and would have immensely enjoyed doing so). I'm immensely curious to see if, over time, the publisher tries to market this to the ever-expanding and diverse young adult (YA) reading community. It seems like the genre has exploded with supernatural/fantasy fiction (dystopia, vampires, etc.), and one always hopes that enthusiastic younger readers will broaden their horizons by sampling slightly different genres. Is this too Western for that readership? I hope not. Sure, this is a dramatic departure from the steady stream of reliable best sellers that John Green keeps writing (or, in a prior generation, S.E. Hinton's classic The Outsiders); but part of me thinks that younger readers who enjoyed, among others, The Book Thief, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Golden Compass/Dark Materials, Ender's Game, and, I dunno, maybe even The Graveyard Book are willing to read stories completely divorced from their day-to-day experience, so why not? Apparently, they're still reading Paulson's Hatchet.... Could this be a modern-day Little House on the Prairie? If it shows up on the big screen, who knows? As a sucker for a good ending, I thought Crook nailed it here. Enough twists and turns that I didn't see it coming, but enough of the right answers to my asked and unanticipated questions to leave me satisfied, relieved, slightly saddened, but fully gratified with the whole.In any event, it's something completely different, elegantly constructed, and well worth a read.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Ben and his half-sister Sam are orphans. Sam is doggedly determined to find the panther that killed her mother and scarred Sam. Ben tells the tale in a series of letters which keeps this story moving forward although it did lag in places.3.25☆
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook commanded my attention from the fist page. I loved the voice and the story kept my interest.In 1866 Texas, Ben is called to testify about a murder incident that occurred three years previous. The judge hopes to determine if Hanlin murdered eight Union soldier prisoners. Ben said he had come across Hanlin at the scene of the crime and that he was also at Hanlin's death. A natural story teller, the boy's statement starts at the beginning of his life and the ci The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook commanded my attention from the fist page. I loved the voice and the story kept my interest.In 1866 Texas, Ben is called to testify about a murder incident that occurred three years previous. The judge hopes to determine if Hanlin murdered eight Union soldier prisoners. Ben said he had come across Hanlin at the scene of the crime and that he was also at Hanlin's death. A natural story teller, the boy's statement starts at the beginning of his life and the circuit judge, needing to move one, asks the boy to write down his testimony and mail it to him.In a series of letters the boy relates a tale of single-minded vengeance.Ben's mother died when he was a few years old. His father brought home a former slave to take care of the home and children; Sam was soon born.When Ben was eight a panther attacked Sam. Her Sam's mother fought the cat and hacked off several of its toes. She died saving Sam's life, but the girl was left hideously scarred.After the death of their father, the children struggled on their own. The nearby Civil War prisoner of war camp have cleared out ready game. Ben must travel far for game and one day he happened upon Hanlin pick-pocketing the bodies of dead Union prisoners.Sam is obsessed with killing the panther. While stalking the panther, the children come into conflict with Hanlin. They rescue his prisoner Pacheco. Hanlin now holds a grudge against them, but in Pacheco they have found a friend.Ben's Testament is told in a series of letters, showing a fatalistic acceptance of his hard life in a hostile environment filled with danger from Secesh, Indians, and bandits. He works a job and takes care of their few livestock but Sam is idle and defiant. Her obsession with killing the deadly panther takes the children on a journey fraught with danger and filled with colorful characters who have lived ungodly lives.Preacher Dob warns Sam that vengeance belongs to the Lord, and she replies, only if he can beat me to it. Preacher Dobs found religion and seeks to expiate his sins. The Mexican Pacheco knows all his mistakes are behind him. Ben's life is filled with loss and hardship but there is something noble and perfect about him. He is unassuming and grateful and earns the judge's esteem. And the readers. He is a marvelous creation.Ben is a natural story-teller and the judge comes to appreciate the boy's love of writing. When Ben requests more paper and ink, the judge readily provides them. When Ben complains about his worn quill pen, wishing he had a modern pen, the judge sends that as well. The judge's gifts increase, sending Ben books including Tristram Shandy.When Ben threw ears of corn over the fence to the Union prisoners someone in return threw back his treasure: a copy of Moby Dick. The novel enthralled the boy and he mentions the book twice in his Testament.Ben's tale is inspired by Melville's novel. There is Sam's single-minded obsession with revenge on the beast called El Demonio de Dos Dedos--the Demon of Two Toes. I also noted how Pacheco face scarred by pocks of black gunpowder parallels Queequeg's Maori tattoos. I had to wonder if Ben has embellished his Testament, writing not subjective truth but transforming his tale. Isn't that what writers do? Take life and tweak it, giving it meaning and form?An Act of God, or nature, brings Ben's tale to a nail-biting conclusion, revealing at last what the judge wanted to hear at the beginning: why Ben is convinced that Hanlin was a murderer and is deceased.In her Acknowledgement, Crook states that her manuscript came to Robert Duvall, who played Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove. (A marvelous movie and book!) I can imagine Crook's book as a movie. Here's hoping!I received a free e-book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'The fact that she was so hard on me and on Samantha makes it all the more curious the way she laid her life down, in such a bloody fashion, in defense of Samantha the day a panther came calling.'I usually don’t read a lot of novels set in the Civil War era but this story is written in such a way that the reader feels they’ve traveled back in time. The language feels authentic, I marvel at authors with the ability to place the proper drawl in th via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'The fact that she was so hard on me and on Samantha makes it all the more curious the way she laid her life down, in such a bloody fashion, in defense of Samantha the day a panther came calling.'I usually don’t read a lot of novels set in the Civil War era but this story is written in such a way that the reader feels they’ve traveled back in time. The language feels authentic, I marvel at authors with the ability to place the proper drawl in their writing. The mother of Benjamin died after his birth, in the hard scrabble existence of the times, his father needed a woman so he found a mate in Juda, a ‘borrowed’ black woman whom he decided to love or keep, depending how you look at the situation. She birthed a daughter, his half-sister Sam. Mean to the bone, she fast showed young Benjamin who was boss of the house, but the meanness was born of hardness she must have experienced, as one night when she disrobed to show Ben he has already been beat in ‘leaving his mark on her flesh’. She certainly doesn’t take kindly to threats, especially from young boys. When a panther comes calling, she sacrifices herself to save her daughter Sam, but the panther can’t be bested by Juda’s grit. The attack on Sam can’t be stopped, leaving her face ravaged. A taste for vengeance is born in her, as her mother is dragged off by the big cat. It’s too late by the time their father returns to save Juda.Through letters to a judge, Jim is testifying about the deaths of prisoners one Clarence Hanlin may have a part in, but this becomes for the reader the story itself. “For six years, Sam had been waiting in a way that was eager. It seemed sometimes that all she did was wait, and watch for that panther.” Her obsession among other hardships they face force them to venture out after their father dies. They interfere with a Secesh named Hanlin, saving one Lorenzo Pacheco (the Mexican) . Taking a finger off with a hell of a shot, they discover that Hanlin’s uncle, Preacher Dob owns a dog that is a great tracker of… panthers. Hanlin is a bad seed, as the preacher is fast to remind with stories of his childhood deeds. The dog decides to help the children hence, the preacher joins them on their journey. Things don’t pan out as Hanlin thought they would, he wants his money, and he will stalk them as they stalk the devil panther and get his horse back too!Life is more than hardscrabble, in fact Sam has grown to be as hard as her own mother was, minus the work ethics. She isn’t the most likable person, but if you explore what you learn about her, it’s hard to imagine her any other way. A face wrecked by a wild animal that killed her mother, her mother was ‘given’ to her father so there is her mixed race to contend with, the environment, the hardscrabble existence, what’s to be so dang happy about anyway? Ben, where does Ben get his light? He doesn’t seem to carry the same poison inside of him his wounded, angry half-sister does. He too lost his mother, though he never knew her. The only touch of a mother he ever knew had been through Juda, and based on the prologue we know she was mean to the marrow of her bones yet somehow manages to maintain a natural peace. By simply writing his letters, he encounters everything from rattlesnakes, to back-breaking work, hunger, not to mention the hassle of his spitfire sister who can’t seem to be bothered, to the point even Sam’s mare would be happy to see her elsewhere. It’s simply the state of his life, not one he complains about. He charms the judge through their correspondence, and receives help without ever asking for it. Sam is a different story entirely, and she makes her own ending, one Benjamin hears much later.Do they kill the panther, avenging Juda’s death? Can they survive the threat of the Secesh, the Comanches, and all the hard luck things that befall them? Will the truth of just how bad Clarence Hanlin is ever be proven? You have to read.I don’t usually read western novels, but I wanted a break from my usual reads. I wasn’t disappointed.Publication Date: February 6, 2018Little, Brown and CompanyAdvertisementsOccasionally
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    ** I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads givewaway. **This book was beautiful. Horrible things happened, one of the main characters was a horrible, self-centered, and completely aggravating young girl and some of the secondary characters were downright evil but still, the book was beautiful. The story grabbed me from the start and never let go. Even when I wanted nothing more than to reach out and shake or slap the annoying brat of a girl that was Sam, I still needed to know what was going to ** I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads givewaway. **This book was beautiful. Horrible things happened, one of the main characters was a horrible, self-centered, and completely aggravating young girl and some of the secondary characters were downright evil but still, the book was beautiful. The story grabbed me from the start and never let go. Even when I wanted nothing more than to reach out and shake or slap the annoying brat of a girl that was Sam, I still needed to know what was going to happen next, whether she and her brother would survive. Whether they would ever catch and defeat the cougar. I really, really disliked her and yet still wanted her to succeed. That takes real skill. It's very difficult to create a completely unlikable main character in a book and still make the reader care about what happens. This author managed to do that and more. I could really see the terrain the characters were traveling, smell the skunk, feel the terror of the night with a vicious cougar on the prowl. This is a book I would definitely recommend, especially to book clubs as I know I would love to have a group of people to discuss the feelings this book stirred up.
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  • Michelle Lancaster
    January 1, 1970
    HISTORICAL FICTIONElizabeth CrookThe Which Way Tree: A NovelLittle, Brown and CompanyHardcover, 978-0-3164-3495-9, (also available as an e-book and on audio CD), 288 pgs., $26.00February 6, 2018Judge E. Carlton: How many times did you have contact with [Clarence Hanlin] after seeing him on the Julian?Benjamin Shreve: It was ongoing, sir, after what my sister done to his finger. He was tracking us for two full days and a portion of another. On occasion he gave chase. There was words spoken. There HISTORICAL FICTIONElizabeth CrookThe Which Way Tree: A NovelLittle, Brown and CompanyHardcover, 978-0-3164-3495-9, (also available as an e-book and on audio CD), 288 pgs., $26.00February 6, 2018Judge E. Carlton: How many times did you have contact with [Clarence Hanlin] after seeing him on the Julian?Benjamin Shreve: It was ongoing, sir, after what my sister done to his finger. He was tracking us for two full days and a portion of another. On occasion he gave chase. There was words spoken. There was shots fired.Fourteen-year-old Benjamin Shreve lives with his younger sister, Samantha, near Camp Verde, Texas. There are many things to be afraid of on the Texas frontier in the aftermath of the Civil War — “Indians and Sesech and bushwackers and vigilantes.” Benjamin is hunting for dinner when he stumbles upon Hanlin, wearing a Confederate uniform, picking the pockets of eight hanged men at Julian Creek. The next time Benjamin sees Hanlin, he and Samantha are trying to trap and kill a panther, the same panther that had mutilated Samantha and killed her mother several years ago, and had returned to bedevil what’s left of their farm. Hanlin is violently abusing an animal, and Samantha takes a shot at him. The ensuing altercation with Hanlin is interrupted by Mr. Pacheco, a Tejano man traveling on a fine horse with a complicated provenance. During the hullabaloo, the panther escapes, and the entire party, with disparate motivations, heads out to track it down.The Which Way Tree: A Novel is new historical fiction from Austin’s Elizabeth Crook. It was inspired by an incident during which Crook’s son was lost in the same rough country portrayed in the novel. Search-and-rescue found her son several hours later, no worse for wear and tear, but they also found a mountain lion tracking the boy. The Which Way Tree is experience alchemized by imagination.Crook had me from the beginning. The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I’ve read before. An epistolary novel, The Which Way Tree is comprised of letters from Benjamin which serve as his grand jury testimony in the matter of murder and highway robbery, in the County of Bandera, in April of 1866. Benjamin possesses a distinctive voice, and his testimony is often unintentionally humorous, in the way of earnest and honest children. Pathos is delivered in a matter-of-fact first-person narration by Benjamin. It’s through his observations only that we know Crook’s characters. Benjamin’s numerous digressions during his testimony serve as autobiography.The action is suspenseful and fast-paced; the narrative flow seamless; the dialogue often laugh-out-loud funny (“Preacher Dobb said, Vengeance belongs to the Lord, Samantha. She said, Only if he can beat me to it.”); Benjamin’s developing relationship with the judge through his letters is sweetly affecting. Crook’s research is evident in the period details, rhythms of speech, and Texas history.Benjamin notes that Samantha’s obsession with the panther is like that of Captain Ahab’s obsession with Moby-Dick. That story is an obvious parallel to The Which Way Creek; a less obvious parallel is Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. A diverse cast of travelers, on a journey in the same direction but for different reasons, with different backgrounds — including a Confederate soldier, a young Anglo boy, a young mulatto girl, a reformed minister, and a Tejano who reminds me of Rhett Butler—a reforming scalawag.The Which Way Tree is an enthralling adventure, a Texas fairy tale in the truest sense of that term—not a Disney version, but a Brothers Grimm, Old World fairy tale for the New World.Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.
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  • Gingersnap
    January 1, 1970
    There were a couple of things, but overall, SO nicely done!!! I received an advanced reader's copy of this book. My opinions are my own!I struggled the entire duration of this book with what I was going to rate it at the end, and honestly, the further I read, the greater the struggle became. Rate it 5 stars because of the carefully crafted tale that left me utterly engaged, and unable to put down the book? Five because of the sprinkled moments of haunting truth about life, family, and love? Or There were a couple of things, but overall, SO nicely done!!! I received an advanced reader's copy of this book. My opinions are my own!I struggled the entire duration of this book with what I was going to rate it at the end, and honestly, the further I read, the greater the struggle became. Rate it 5 stars because of the carefully crafted tale that left me utterly engaged, and unable to put down the book? Five because of the sprinkled moments of haunting truth about life, family, and love? Or three, because of how much I struggled to get into the book, and how much I disliked Samantha? The obvious answer seems a compromising 4, but it wasn't so easy for me. I really did struggle, and I REALLY disliked Samantha.What I couldn't ignore, however, were the qualities that made this book exceptional, so I'll start out first with what I loved. The story gripped me, tugging me along in an ever increasing tempo, toward an ending that was wistful, and aching, but happy. Mostly wistful. I loved the ending. I absolutely will NOT say anything further, as I couldn't possibly risk spoiling it, but the ending is what finally decided me on 4 stars. So beautifully done! Not only that, but the description in this book was just so vivid. There is a scene with the panther during a lightning storm, and while reading it I just thought WOW!Also, I'd like to mention that that vivid description is one of the reasons the ending was so poignant. I felt like I was right there inside the scene, looking back at a life spread out behind me. It was just so beautiful.With that being said, however, there were some things I struggled with, a lot. First was Samantha. As mentioned, I disliked her with an intensity I've rarely seen. She is one of the most selfish characters I have ever had the misfortune to come across. The story is not told from her POV, it is told by her brother, Benjamin, and I was grateful, because I'd have never survived the story in Samantha's head. The second thing I struggled with was the writing. The language was incredibly accurate, at least what I'd imagine an uneducated boy from Texas to have. However, the poor English, combined with the fact that it is written in the form of "reports", or letters, and so none of the dialogue contained defining punctuation, and both of those combined with the lack of a single contraction...It made for a bit of a difficult read. Once I got into the book (meaning 5 or 6 chapters in) I got used to the flow, but I never really came to enjoy it, and I specifically dislike books that don't use contractions. It lends to a cumbersome, formal sort-of speech, that I just don't enjoy. So with all that being said, would I recommend this book? Definitely! The ending was just wonderfully done, and the journey was so gripping, I think it's a read that will disappoint very few.All in all, I'd call it beautiful, wistful, and masterfully done!gingersreviews.com
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  • David Brown
    January 1, 1970
    Although it starts with an unusual and perhaps unlikely premise (I only call it unlikely because perhaps I know nothing about life in 1863 hill country Texas) I found this book to be delightful for lack of a more literate term. It is a story of a young man and his mulatto significantly scarred half-sister on a search for a panther -- must be 1863 vernacular for a mountain lion in Texas although the book never makes it clear as to the exact animal involved -- that killed the young man's stepmothe Although it starts with an unusual and perhaps unlikely premise (I only call it unlikely because perhaps I know nothing about life in 1863 hill country Texas) I found this book to be delightful for lack of a more literate term. It is a story of a young man and his mulatto significantly scarred half-sister on a search for a panther -- must be 1863 vernacular for a mountain lion in Texas although the book never makes it clear as to the exact animal involved -- that killed the young man's stepmother and the young girl's mother and the interesting cast of characters and "panther dog" they encounter along the way. I was particularly taken by the author's either research or personal knowledge regarding meteorological events in our Southwest as well as flash flooding issues which is certainly born out since I was born and raised in Arizona. This book like "News of the World" cries out to be made into a movie with Robert Duvall playing Preacher Dob; however, since it lacks a Marvel superhero sadly that probably will not happen. The novel I have read about Civil War and post conflict Amerian west since the above mentioned other book. I highly recommend it and will be looking into other works by this accomplished author.
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  • Derrick Jeter
    January 1, 1970
    I have seen many reviews, including on the book jacket, comparing Elizabeth Crook's "The Which Way Tree" to Charles Portis' "True Grit." At the center of both stories are headstrong girls; both have known terrible loss; and both seek vengeance on the one who caused such loss. But I don't think Crook's Samantha is Portis' Mattie. Rather, the narrative more than hints at the true nature of Samantha. She is Herman Melville's Ahab in "Moby-Dick." And Samatha's half-brother Benjamin is Ishmael. In th I have seen many reviews, including on the book jacket, comparing Elizabeth Crook's "The Which Way Tree" to Charles Portis' "True Grit." At the center of both stories are headstrong girls; both have known terrible loss; and both seek vengeance on the one who caused such loss. But I don't think Crook's Samantha is Portis' Mattie. Rather, the narrative more than hints at the true nature of Samantha. She is Herman Melville's Ahab in "Moby-Dick." And Samatha's half-brother Benjamin is Ishmael. In this sense—and in may others—the tale told in "The Which Way Tree" is a western—a Texan—Moby-Dick. The story is engaging and engrossing. The writing is superb—lyrical and beautiful. And the relationship between Sam and Ben is both disturbing and sweet ... and tragic. I hated to see the ending come, and I was not prepared for its hopeful, yet yearn-filled conclusion. This is not merely a Texas tale. It is a universal story of family relationships, hopes and dreams, disappointments and heartache, love and loss ... and ultimately, how "time just gets away from us."
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  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    Rarely does a book so quickly grip me in its first pages, but The Which Way Tree has done it with a harrowing story of survivalon the Texas frontier during the Civil War. Bringing to mind the tight narratives of Charles Portis, the novel weaves a story of violence, survival and frontier justice.Early one morning a panther attacks young Samantha outside of the homestead where she lives. Her mother is killed when she intervenes and the attack leaves Samantha terribly disfigured. From that day on, Rarely does a book so quickly grip me in its first pages, but The Which Way Tree has done it with a harrowing story of survivalon the Texas frontier during the Civil War. Bringing to mind the tight narratives of Charles Portis, the novel weaves a story of violence, survival and frontier justice.Early one morning a panther attacks young Samantha outside of the homestead where she lives. Her mother is killed when she intervenes and the attack leaves Samantha terribly disfigured. From that day on, Samantha can think of nothing but avenging her mother’s death and killing the panther.The Which Way Tree (Little, Brown and company, digital galley), by Elizabeth Crook, is narrated by Samantha’s older, half-brother Benjamin. When their father dies shortly following the panther attack, Benjamin and Samantha are left to eek out a meager existence in a remote hill country where they are plagued by the ravages of a shoddy house, a “Yankee” blockade, Comanche Indians and violent Sesesh (secessionists).When an opportunity to track the panther presents itself, the siblings and an eccentric cast of sidekicks set off in pursuit of the legendary beast. The Which Way Tree is a testament to the human spirit to overcome obstacles and to find meaning in even the most dire of circumstances.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    A wild west tale of old Texas after the Civil War where an orphaned white teenage boy and his mulatto half sister must survive near starvation trying to keep a family farm going after a rogue panther kills Samantha's mother and their father dies. Told in an accurate voice for the time, the story is told through the written testimony of Benjamin to a judge in hopes of convicting a sadistic man who has plagued them. You empathize with Sam the most in her relentless quest to kill the panther that s A wild west tale of old Texas after the Civil War where an orphaned white teenage boy and his mulatto half sister must survive near starvation trying to keep a family farm going after a rogue panther kills Samantha's mother and their father dies. Told in an accurate voice for the time, the story is told through the written testimony of Benjamin to a judge in hopes of convicting a sadistic man who has plagued them. You empathize with Sam the most in her relentless quest to kill the panther that scarred her and killed her mother. They are composed of a strange band of travelers - an outlaw, a preacher, tracking dog, Sam and her brother Ben as they are pursued by the murderous Hanlin. Brutal but honest it gives a true accounting of how hard life was in the Texas frontier filled with violence and racial hatred. My thanks to the publisher for the advanced copy.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    This story is narrated by Benjamin Shreve. He tells about his sister Samantha's revenge against a panther that attacked her and left her face horribly scarred and also killed her mother. I liked the format of this book. Having Benjamin relate the story through letters was unique. Seeing this tale unravel through the eyes of a child made the story unfold with clarity, comedy and great detail. The characters were not only entertaining but believable. The author did a great job and this book is a w This story is narrated by Benjamin Shreve. He tells about his sister Samantha's revenge against a panther that attacked her and left her face horribly scarred and also killed her mother. I liked the format of this book. Having Benjamin relate the story through letters was unique. Seeing this tale unravel through the eyes of a child made the story unfold with clarity, comedy and great detail. The characters were not only entertaining but believable. The author did a great job and this book is a winner. I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    I got a few chapters in, and couldn't help but think of Ambrose Bierce's "The Boarded Window," Charles Portis' "True Grit," and James McBride's "The Good Lord Bird." What a great read for those who appreciate a great Western and empowered young people! Thanks to Little Brown and Co, and NetGalley for the ARC #TheWhichWayTree #NetGalley
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  • goodoldtree
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to the audiobook of The Which Way Tree and LOVED every moment of it. Seriously. It was adventurous, it was tender and beautiful and rough and such a wonderful story. Another review said that the ending was gratifying, and it was. Loved it. Super good. Will recommend to many!
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  • Shelley
    January 1, 1970
    To me, a brilliant novel is one that says as much (or more) in what is NOT laid out for the reader to digest, but in the bits that your brain fills in as it goes, the white spaces. When it happens in an epistolary novel, it's an even greater treat.
  • Terry Watkins
    January 1, 1970
    Not since True Grit...have I enjoyed such a rollicking ride through the old west. Written in a beautiful and authentic voice, The Which Way Tree will leave you wishing there was more and forever pondering the fate of a girl names Sam.
  • Peggy Stafford
    January 1, 1970
    This is a gritty, exciting story that has all the components of a great book. Well done, Ms. Crook. I am sure we will see this on screen soon.
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    2.75 stars. There were some parts I really liked but for the most part it was just meh! While it was written with an authentic “voice” I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed that “voice”.
  • Fran Caparrelli
    January 1, 1970
    A super read
  • Carol Ann
    January 1, 1970
    LOVED it. Hold on to your hat, this is a rollicking ride. Highly recommended!
  • Dave Brown
    January 1, 1970
    Fun read!!!....an awesome Western adventure with great narration from main charatcter, Benjamin. Exciting and funny...will end up one of my fav reads this year.
  • Heather Boaz
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for my free copy for review! All opinions are my own.The young narrator, Benjamin's voice is absolutely captivating in the old tradition of verbal epic storytelling. His world view is simple, restricted to the small house he lives in with his sister, his quotidien chores, the few people he comes into contact with. The narrator's young sister, mauled by the panther that killed her mother, is on a quest to find and kill that panther. But the story that unrav Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for my free copy for review! All opinions are my own.The young narrator, Benjamin's voice is absolutely captivating in the old tradition of verbal epic storytelling. His world view is simple, restricted to the small house he lives in with his sister, his quotidien chores, the few people he comes into contact with. The narrator's young sister, mauled by the panther that killed her mother, is on a quest to find and kill that panther. But the story that unravels is of mythical proportion and drive. The increasingly colorful characters that enter as their adventure progresses are absolute storybook villains. The beast itself becomes sort of supernatural in its omnipotence and at one point we even encounter a storm that is truly of Biblical proportion. The story of their quest is told through the device of Benjamin's testimony and letters to a judge. Crook has an real gift in developing the voice of this direct and honest young man. Though the "Western adventure" genre is usually not my style, I was completely taken with his compelling story - making this read almost like a thriller and constantly needing to know what happens next!
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