Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views
On the back cover of Dr. Jeri Fink’s new book, “Trees Cry for Rain,” the publishers notes ominously proclaim “Something unthinkable is about to happen.” And as a result of the author’s imagination and creativity, it does. The richness and flavor of Dr. Fink’s book is provided by three key ingredients: a thoroughly researched and vivid account of the Spanish Inquisition of Jews hundreds of years ago; an insightful social commentary on the current diversity of life in New York City; and, the Jewish concept of gigul, reincarnation of souls. Simply stated, gigul is a belief that each person is responsible for their actions. If they do not rectify their bad mistakes and misdeeds in one life, they will reincarnate to complete rectification in the next life. It is the concept of gigul that strongly binds together the historical drama and the author’s modern day Manhattan story.
But, while the concept of gigul is the tie that binds, “Trees Cry for Rain” is not, in my mind, a book about time travel or reincarnation. For me, these were simply intriguing literary devices that were important to the book’s architecture and to its effectiveness in engaging and holding the reader’s interest. On the surface this book follows a Jewish family living in Spain in the 1400s who must feign their conversion to Christianity in order to survive the Inquisition. Ultimately, they are betrayed. Both parents die gruesome deaths in the torture dungeons; their three daughters escape. On a parallel track, a modern day story unfolds in a Manhattan park. On one particular day, three unrelated women find themselves in that park. And in that park, the past and present collide. Any further explanation would most surely diffuse the book’s intrigue.
As compelling as “Trees Cry for Rain” is on the surface, it is the stories that lie beneath that are the most relevant, perhaps because their message is timeless: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Their stories are universal: the incredible power of love and family; the continuing relevance of religions on our world cultures; and the incomprehensible ability of humans to inflict extreme horror and cruelty upon each other. Upon reflecting on the books title, it occurred to me that perhaps the author was likening us to the trees and that what we cry for is grace.
“Trees Cry for Rain,” by Dr. Jeri Fink, is a most notable piece of fiction writing, in a word, “thoroughly” - a thoroughly researched, engaging story, populated by a thoroughly developed cast of central and supporting characters, all working together in concert to compel the reader to thoroughly embrace the book. Readers who enjoy history painstakingly and vividly brought to life and storytelling uniquely wrought, will find “Trees Cry for Rain” hard to stop reading as soon as they start.
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Trees Cry for Rain by Jeri Fink
I began Trees Cry For Rain thinking it would be another time shifting historical fiction novel.
That it would be good, but not awesome. Wow - I was wrong. From the
very opening pages, I was gripped. The story begins with a family in
Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. They are Jews who are desperately
pretending to be Christians. They are betrayed, the parents are sent
to prison, and the children have to flee. The story switches gears
after that and we meet modern day New Yorkers who are connected somehow -
to each other, and to the horrible persecutions of the past. It's
difficult to say more than that without divulging too much but believe
me - this is one powerful book.
The transitions between time periods and characters are seamless. The
scene descriptions and background inclusions are beautiful and always a
positive. The characters are deep and reach out from the pages to grab
your heart. The sheer amount of research that had to happen for this
novel blows my mind. I followed the characters on their journey and
found it all to easy to see their surroundings, to feel their emotions,
and to worry for their fates. This novel has all of the components of
an epic success - strong characters, engrossing plot, and gripping
themes. I look forward to future works from Ms. Fink! 5 Stars!
- Lisa Stock, The Book Nook Club
Review from Dragonflowers & Books
Gilgul gives people the chance to make things right.
In all the books I have read, I have never read one about the Spanish Inquisition. This book was such an eye opener for me and had me thinking about it for several days. In some books that I have read, the transition from one time to another was a little rough. Not so with this book. The story seemed to flow nicely. I really liked the objects, either physical or verbal, that connected each time as well (a key split into several pieces, purple flowers and trees crying for rain). This is great read, with brave and courageous characters with an interesting ending.
*Sex is mentioned and slightly described.
"Sometimes when you believe that everything is set, that forever is well in hand with a clear path to follow - a path that will lead you into a well-defined life - there's a sharp turn in the road and you're plunged into a direction you never imagined." pg. 40
Review from Confessions of a Habitue
by Britt Chapman
Gilgul neshamot-- the cycling of souls.
Similar in concept to Catriona, this book blends past and present and characters seek to understand how they are connected.
The biggest difference is that in Trees Cry For Rain we're looking at many characters.
I found the concept wonderful and the execution pretty good. My only complaint, really, is that I wanted more of each story. What
happened to Zara later in her life? What did they find in Spain? And
what on earth was going on in the trashy novel Shira was writing?!
Overall, a really interesting book, with mysticism connecting the
expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal to four seemingly unrelated
strangers in a park.
Review from Tell Me A Story
by Carol Toomey
My thoughts: Although the book moves between the past and the present the greater emphasis is on the historical story which is told in the first person, first by Rozas and then her daughter , Marianna. Right from the beginning I made that all-important emotional connection that would draw me into their lives and sharing their pain and suffering. I'm familiar with the Inquisition and the atrocities committed by them against those they considered heretics but the impact of another telling wasn't lessened by that knowledge. The writing flows , there is some beautiful descriptive prose and I loved the dream sequences and the recurring symbolism of trees, keys and purple flowers.
I also particularly liked learning something of what happened to those who fled Spain. The time in Portugal and the different parts of the world the survivors of the Inquisition ended up in.
The modern part of the story set in New York didn't have the same appeal even though I liked the theme of reincarnation and 'gilgul' - the chance to make things right'. There wasn't enough time to get to know any of these characters or their backgrounds well enough to really get involved in their story.
Overall Trees Cry For Rain was a pleasure to read and will appeal to historical fiction lovers.
It's going to take sometime for me, if ever, to stop mourning the lives and
stories in Trees Cry for Rain. I felt the need to continually read in
order to keep the families alive. Completely drawn into the history. Daunting!
How did you ever get through this...unearthing the history and then coming out
unscathed? I know it took years for you to write Trees Cry for Rain,
but I hope there will be sequels.
-BRWoolley, New Jersey
Trees was so intriguing ... it gripped my heart page after page ... the characters were in my soul and the history so detailed ... I can't remember a "great read" like your book in a long time...thank you! - S. Scott, New Jersey
It was a worthy read, anyone who loves historical pieces will be sure to enjoy this. - Jennifer Chatham, Mad Moose Mama
This is a wonderful book, which taught me something about a period of history I knew little about and at the same time introduced me to a group of strong and haunting characters whom I will never forget - S.Roth, Florida
I could not put this book down. A fantastic story with interesting and believable characters. This is a must read! - Bookguru, California
Trees Cry For Rain is a fascinating combination of history and mysticism - Nervdoc, Barnes&Noble.com
I love this book! I didn't want it to end! I'm ready for Dr. Fink's next book. - SBridger, Amazon.com
This book combines a wonderful and compelling storyline. It incorporates all the aspects that I love in a historical novel - interesting facts about a time period in history, characters that touch your soul, and a bit of intrigue that made me think. I know its a great read, when I can't put it down. Highly recommended! - MW, Connecticut
Such a great story about a time period I knew little about. The characters are wonderful and the storyline captivating. It was a page turner and I finished the book quickly. After I read it, the premise made me think about the role a Mother plays with carrying tradition to the younger generation . . . Loved it! - Anonymous, Amazon.com