I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. The first couple of chapters showed me that it wasn't the kind of book I usually read, and very often don't enjoy. For starters, it is written in "Third person omniscient" - which is just a fancy way of saying that the reader gets to see inside everybody's head - their thoughts, opinions, and motivations. I generally prefer a strong, limited P.O.V. - inside one character's head at a time. Secondly, I usually prefer more traditional genre novels to literary fiction, and this very much fits into the literary fiction mold. Yes, there is a bit of mystery, an anxiousness to discover what happened, but this novel is essentially a character study wrapped inside a mystery. And the character being studied isn't all that appealing (to start).
But. I was given an advance copy in return for an honest review, so I pressed on. And I'm so glad I did! The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I wanted to know, yes, what happened to Carrie, but also, I wanted to follow this unlikable woman, Hyosun Park, on her journey. A journey that leads her to not just find Carrie, but also to understand her son and his love for Carrie. A journey that takes her into herself, and through the blockade of her upbringing to a richer, more complete understanding of herself, and the world around her. Oh yeah, and she also solves the mystery of Carrie's disappearance!
The Tree Of After Life is the debut novel of new author J. S. Vaughn. Based on this book, I am quite sure I will be reading more from this author.