The Courage Tree, Diane Chamberlain

Saturday, February 24, 2018

As women's fiction goes, Diane Chamberlain's is serviceable. If nothing else, she creates the most intricate (some might say convoluted) plots, plots that suck you in and keep you reading, but which
end up being mostly empty of deep meaning. I like to call this type of book "popcorn" books because, like popcorn, they lack substance but are oddly satisfying.

The Courage Tree is no exception. The story begins with a disappearance. Sophie, the daughter of Janine, disappears on her way home from summer camp. What makes this already alarming disappearance even more tragic is that Sophie has a medical condition that requires regular medicine; medicine which she won't get in time if they don't find her soon. Janine's ex-husband, Joe, is furious with his ex-wife for letting Sophie go to camp in the first place, and with the experimental treatment Sophie has been receiving without his blessing. Janine's new boyfriend, Lucas, supports her decision, and the two men grow to suspect and dislike each other more and more as the search goes on.

To be honest, I had to look up the finer points of the plot to even write this review-that should tell you something about the book. The plot includes a car crash, a reclusive actress, an escaped murderer, and more unlikely circumstances than should be able to fit in one story. The story was engaging enough at the time to keep me reading, but clearly not impactful enough for me to remember it a couple of months later. I do remember thinking that the Zoe character (the actress) was especially unbelievable and that Sophie is definitely more mature than I would expect any eight-year-old to be. If you're looking for a popcorn book, one where you don't have to think too much that reads quick, then you might want to check this out. Otherwise, I say "meh".

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