The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. Amulet / Abrams, 2016
When 14-year-old Faith’s scientist father is accused of trying to pass off a fake fossil as authentic, public censure prompts the family to move from their Kent home to the site of an archaeological dig on a sparsely populated island. But scandal follows the family to the island, where Faith covertly investigates the mystery behind her father’s secretive behavior. She discovers the Mendacity Tree, an obscure plant he’s hiding that is nourished by lies rather than sunlight. If well fed, it bears a fruit that reveals the truth when eaten. When her father dies suddenly, Faith is convinced he was murdered. She sets out to prove it, using the Mendacity Tree to aid her mission. Truth and lies shift uneasily as Faith sinks deeper and deeper into a quagmire of greed and treachery— including her own. The shifting world of natural science a decade after the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of the Species plays an important role is this novel that compares and contrasts the behavior of complex characters and the intricacies of their relationships. At the center of it all is Faith, an intelligent girl who resents the limitations of the gender roles of her time, and yet judges her mother with the same stereotypical bias that she abhors. (Age 12 and older) © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- If given the chance, would you eat the fruit from the Lie Tree? Why or why not?
- Faith’s brother uses guns and his toy stage to act out his fears and to talk about tough stuff. What helps you through tough stuff and problems? How do you cope?
- Faith has complicated relationships with both her mother and father. Which parent do you think she is most like? Why?
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