Tell It to the Trees

Tell It to the Trees

Book - 2011
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One freezing winter morning a dead body is found in the backyard of the Dharma family's house. It's the body of Anu Krishnan.
For Anu, a writer seeking a secluded retreat from the city, the Dharmas' "back-house" in the sleepy mountain town of Merrit's Point was the ideal spot to take a year off and begin writing. She had found the Dharmas' rental through a happy coincidence. A friend from university who had kept tabs on everyone in their graduating year - including the quiet and reserved Vikram Dharma and his first wife, Helen - sent her the listing. Anu vaguely remembered Vikram but had a strong recollection of Helen, a beautiful, vivacious, social and charming woman.
But now Vikram had a new wife, a marriage hastily arranged in India after Helen was killed in a car accident. Suman Dharma, a stark contrast to Helen, is quiet and timid. She arrived from the bustling warmth of India full of the promise of her new life - a new home, a new country and a daughter from Vikram's first marriage. But her husband's suspicious, controlling and angry tirades become almost a daily ritual, resigning Suman to a desolate future entangled in a marriage of fear and despair.
Suman is isolated both by the landscape and the culture, and her fortunes begin to change only when Anu arrives. A friendship begins to form between the two women as Anu becomes a frequent visitor to the house. While the children, Varsha and Hemant, are at school, Anu, Vikram's mother, Akka, and Suman spend time sharing tea and stories.
But Anu's arrival will change the balance of the Dharma household. Young Varsha, deeply affected by her mother's death and desperate to keep her new family together, becomes increasingly suspicious of Anu's relationship with her stepmother. Varsha's singular attention to keeping her family together, and the secrets that emerge as Anu and Suman become friends, create cracks in the Dharma family that can only spell certain disaster.

Publisher: Toronto : Knopf Canada, c2011
ISBN: 9780676978933
Branch Call Number: F BAD
Characteristics: 255 p. ; 22 cm


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Sep 07, 2017

Depressing and disturbing.

Aug 07, 2017

Anita Rau Badami's book "Tell it to the trees," is set in the cold winters of Northern B.C. It tells of the Indo- Candian Dharma family who carry on their life under the shadows of abuse. As the wife Suman says, "All of us are carrying tales to him about each other, falling over ourselves to be in his good books. I as childish as my stepdaughter." The writing is crisp and the story poignant with an undercurrent of mystery. Will be a great addition to any reader's library or to a book club.

Mar 06, 2017

SCL Monday Afternoon Book Club rated this 7.5 out of 10. The group as a whole felt it was very well written and it will help start the conversation on the topic of inter-generational abuse.

Jul 26, 2016

Manipulation is a nasty talent that some people possess. Often, we don't realize that someone manipulates us until it's too late. Varsha, a teenager, is a master of manipulation. As much as I enjoyed the story, I was fascinated to see how she was using her horrible skills, and how it was only Anu who recognized what the girl was doing to her brother and the rest of the family. She used every known moral and family value to control the whole family except for her equally horrible father. Good read.

timbert Nov 01, 2015

On going cruelty, these kinds of events have been all to common & are happening still but I question the value of such a book. It disturbed too much to finish so I do not know if the author gave it a 'good' ending.
No matter what, young people treated in such ways could never completely heal.

Aug 04, 2015

Not a long story told from varying points of view - have to read a bit to figure out who is talking. Sad story of abuse and bullying leading to deaths and murder on a multigenerational level.

brianreynolds May 09, 2013

Reading Tell It to the Trees by Anita Rau Badami was neither particularly enjoyable nor instructional. While family abuse is certainly a topical subject, readers looking for some insight into either its causes, dynamics or solutions will be disappointed. The abusers punch and kick and frighten while the victims cower and cover-up—over and over, from multiple points of view. Readers looking for a story will find it difficult to identify with, let alone fall in love with any of the characters. The potential hero, the tenant Anu who might have blown the whistle on the whole dysfunctional family, is dead before the first chapter starts—hardly a recipe for suspense. The "plot" is really just a revelation of how the seeds of abuse bear pain and suffering, how evil people do evil things. If that constitutes a plot at all (this is probably an archetypal irony) it is one that might be more interesting told to trees than readers.

afternoonbookclub1 Dec 19, 2012

Wednesday, January 30th from 1:30 to 3:00, the Unionville Book Club will meet to discuss this book.
All are welcome!
If you have any questions, please email me at or you can call (905)513-7977, ext. 5518.

Nov 16, 2012

Enjoyed the combination of a murder mystery with Anita's wry humour.

May 28, 2012

Loved the book! I figured out who was responsible for Anu's death--it became pretty obvious as the story progressed. And the ending left chills down my spine--so disturbing!

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Dec 16, 2011

Brothers teaches how war inflicts psychological damage on families across generations. A story that might have fallen short since the plot is pretty predictable, but it’s saved by good acting and character development.

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