A divorced scientist trying to make sense of her life climbs into a tree—and stays put.
Forest Service worker Kate Sinclair is at a crossroads. Childless and newly single, she decides to climb into a loblolly pine and set up camp there. Her friends assume she’s going through a midlife crisis; townspeople think Kate must be protesting the imminent loss of the forest at the hands of developers. Kate herself admittedly doesn’t know what she’s doing, only that the forest is where she’s always felt most at home, even as a child before trauma changed her life forever. An avid birder, Kate tries to focus on the drama of the avian world in the forest—watching a horned owl pair roosting, searching for an elusive endangered woodpecker—but the drama of her small town keeps intruding. Some characters search her out to antagonize her, as in the case of some teens being kept from lucrative jobs working on the development construction; others come to seek her guidance, like the high schooler hoping to make a career of entomology. To top it all off, a mysterious man is watching her through binoculars from the edge of the forest, and she doesn’t know if he means to help or harm. Hinton (Sister Eve and the Blue Nun, 2016, etc.) does an admirable job of keeping the pacing brisk despite being limited to a single tree for the virtual entirety of the book’s setting. And Kate, as a protagonist, is messily complex and often frustratingly self-absorbed—in short, a real, recognizable person. But the plot is too often in service of the life lessons here instead of the other way around.
This field guide to both nature and life offers morals on grief, survival, and community in an often too-pat package.