The Coffin Tree
Wendy Law-Yone opens her first novel with the phrase of a survivor, "Living things prefer to go on living." A young woman and her older half-brother are expelled from their home in Burma by a savage political coup. Sent to elusive safety in America, the motherless siblings find themselves engulfed by the indifference, hypocrisy, and cruelty of an American society unable to deal with difference. Her brother's death drives the unnamed narrator into the seclusion of a mental hospital, where memories of her childhood and the strength it ingrained in her are enough to heal her heart and return her to the outside world.
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arms asked Auntie Lily aunts began better brother calypsos chamber pot cheroot child chocolate-chip cookies coffin tree cook danger dark daybed dead death door dream Elton John eyes face Father fear feel feet felt fingers floor friends girl gone guitar gunny sack hair hand head heard heart Helga hot chocolate jackfruit Jolene kitchen knew laugh leave legs listen living look monsoon morning mother mouth narcolepsy never night once opium Paddy pain Pensacola picked pulled rice ringworm Robin Rosie sampan sandalwood Sarah Scrabble seemed servants Shan Shan's shook sitting skin sleep smell smile snow stood stopped story suddenly talk tears teeth tell things thought told took Tristan and Isolde trying turned Uncle village voice waiting walked wanted watch What's window Winston woman wondered