Michael Christie’s GREENWOOD is a multi-generational saga following over a century of the Greenwood family through both its meteoric rise and devastating fall.
Beginning in 2038, we begin with Jake Greenwood, an overqualified guide offering tours of one of Earth’s last remaining natural forests following the climate apocalypse some years earlier. She is presented with a relic from the past; something that will help her fill in the blanks of her own sketchy history. From there the story jumps back to 2008, 1974 and 1934 respectively. What we’re left with is a fully imagined and soul-crushing history of a family story that left me reeling.
When the nominees were first announced for Canada Reads, I could not imagine a better choice for the winner than Kate Beaton’s Ducks and while I still believe that, there are some strong contenders amongst the rest of the field and Michael Christie’s GREENWOOD is no exception.
Not a single character is without flaws and the breadth of the story shows how easy it is to misconstrue the actions of others and misunderstand the events of the past. So much could be better understood if people could just talk to one another, but the complexities involved make it nearly impossible. The attitudes toward sexuality and mental and physical health in the early half of the 20th century made it nearly impossible for those in Christie’s novel to ask for help and acceptance.
I absolutely adored this novel. It’s a long one, but I can’t imagine trimming any branches for a more streamlined and presentable experience. Everything here is valuable, like the roots that feed the tree. One of the best lines Christie wrote will stick with me for quite some time:
“There aren’t any normal lives, son. That’s the lie that hurts us most.”