Wednesday, February 7 at 7PM
speaking & signing
The Which Way Tree
ABOUT THE WHICH WAY TREE
The story of a young girl's frightening and poignant odyssey to track down the panther that killed her mother.
Early one morning in the remote hill country of Texas, a panther savagely attacks a family of homesteaders, mauling a young girl named Samantha and killing her mother, whose final act is to save her daughter’s life. Samantha and her half brother, Benjamin, survive, but she is left traumatized, her face horribly scarred.
Narrated in Benjamin’s beguilingly plainspoken voice, The Which Way Tree is the story of Samantha’s unshakeable resolve to stalk and kill the infamous panther, rumored across the Rio Grande to be a demon, and avenge her mother’s death. In their quest she and Benjamin, now orphaned, enlist a charismatic Tejano outlaw and a haunted, compassionate preacher with an aging but relentless tracking dog. As the members of this unlikely posse hunt the panther, they are in turn pursued by a hapless but sadistic Confederate soldier with troubled family ties to the preacher and a score to settle.
In the tradition of the great pursuit narratives, The Which Way Tree is a breathtaking saga of one steadfast girl’s revenge against an implacable and unknowable beast. Yet with the comedic undertones of Benjamin’s storytelling, it is also a timeless tale full of warmth and humor, and a testament to the enduring love of a brother and sister caught up in a perilous adventure that takes on the dimensions of a legend.
“Elizabeth Crook has invented a brilliant way of seeing the old Texas frontier: at very close range, through the eyes of a wise-beyond-his-years seventeen-year-old boy and the sister whose defiant quest he joins. The result is a small-scale masterwork, richly detailed and beautifully rendered.”
—S. C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon
“Not since True Grit have I read a novel as charming, exciting, suspenseful, and pitch-perfect as The Which Way Tree. Elizabeth Crook’s new book is winning from first page to last.”
—Ron Hansen, author of The Kid and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
“The Which Way Tree is one part Track of the Cat, one part True Grit, and one part Tom Sawyer, a ruthless pedigree for a novel that displays human nature in its most beautiful form—a marvel.”
—Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of The Western Star, a Walt Longmire mystery
“ ‘Preacher Dob said, Vengeance belongs to the Lord, Samantha. She said, Only if he can beat me to it.’ This told me everything I needed to know about Samantha Shreve, a character who knocked my socks off from her first appearance on the page. This book is the stuff of legends, tales told for a hundred years around Texas campfires. Written in a form that is historically accurate and yet feels painstakingly intimate, The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I’ve read before.”
—Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird
“Elizabeth Crook has created a book of marvels. Its comedy is steeped in the hardscrabble tragedies of a wilder old America. You will even catch an echo of Twain’s wit in the picaresque narration.”
—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of the national bestseller The Hummingbird’s Daughter
“In The Which Way Tree, a boy and his sister are engaged in the pursuit of a panther that killed a relative, while they are in turn pursued by a misfit Confederate veteran who means them harm. Elizabeth Crook has conjured a powerful, sly, and often charming tale delivered in the winning voice of Benjamin as he sends a series of letters and testaments to a concerned judge. A fast-paced story resonating with rich characters and mythic elements that come to us as folklore that mustn't be doubted.”
—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone and The Maid’s Version
“When I began to read this book its unique voice appealed to me immediately. Elizabeth Crook has written a beautiful novel with wonderful characters.”
ABOUT ELIZABETH CROOK
Elizabeth Crook lived in Nacogdoches, Texas and then San Marcos, Texas with her parents and brother and sister until age seven when the family moved to Washington D.C., where her father was director of VISTA for Lyndon Johnson. Two years later her father was appointed Ambassador to Australia and the family moved to Canberra. When they returned to Texas Elizabeth attended public schools in San Marcos, graduating from San Marcos High School. She attended Baylor University for two years and graduated from Rice University in 1982. She has written five novels: The Raven's Bride and Promised Lands, published by Doubleday and reissued by SMU Press as part of the Southwest Life and Letters series; The Night Journal, published by Viking/Penguin in 2006 and reissued in paperback by Penguin; Monday, Monday, published by Sarah Crichton Books, FSG, in April 2014 and reissued in paperback from Picador; and The Which Way Tree, published by Little, Brown and Company, available in February 2018 and optioned by Maverick Films LLC with Robert Duvall to star. Elizabeth has written for periodicals such as Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters and the board of the Texas Book Festival. She is a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, and was selected the honored writer for 2006 Texas Writers' Month. Her first novel, The Raven's Bride, was the 2006 Texas Reads: One Book One Texas selection. The Night Journal was awarded the 2007 Spur award for Best Long Novel of the West and the 2007 Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Monday, Monday was awarded the 2015 Jesse H. Jones award for fiction.
Elizabeth currently lives in Austin with her family.
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