Return to Bone Tree Hill (2009), by Kristin Butcher

I found this book on my shelf. I have no idea where it came from, but I suspect from my friend Rob, who also reviews YA literature, being far more active in the children’s and YA academic literary scene than I am. If so, I will have to thank him, as it was a fascinating novel.
Set in Victoria, BC, Return to Bone Tree Hill appeals through the careful and affectionate descriptions of places that any local and even most visitors would recognize. Yet neither the title place—Bone Tree Hill—nor the opening scenes of the novel smack of local colour. In the opening lines, we are plunged into 18-year-old Jessica’s recurring dream: nightmare, in fact. Through her first-person description of the sleeplessness and trauma it is causing, we come to know Jess as a clever, caring girl, recently returned from six years with her family in Australia. Their emigration had been delayed for a number of weeks due to Jess’s contracting meningitis, which has left her with days of blankness in her childhood memories.  In this memory chasm lie the clues to Jess’s dream, a dream of murder and betrayed affection, emotions swirling together—inseparable—in Jess’s faulty, feverish memories. With the help of her pragmatic best friend Jilly, Jess struggles to regain the memories that she feels point to her murder of a childhood friend; given the strength of her dream, she can believe no other explanation.
Kristin Butcher presents her readers with clues carefully delivered to Jess’s increasingly troubled psyche in a way that is natural and believable. While one could anticipate paranormal elements at the outset, vision and reality slowly coalesce in Jess’s world until she and Jilly—and the readers—fully understand what happened on that fateful evening six years earlier. There is nothing paranormal in Jess’s recovered memory: only horror and fear and sadness.
Young readers who want a mystery with a solution that cannot easily be divined will really enjoy Return to Bone Tree Hill. It has all the right elements: protagonists who do not step out of believable activities for teens; a crime that is plausible and practicable; a solution that arises through natural processes. All is explained, and explained well; but that does not mean you will guess the end before you get there.

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3 comments on “Return to Bone Tree Hill (2009), by Kristin Butcher

  1. […] really enjoyed Kristin Butchers Return to Bone Tree Hill (2009), I was excited to receive Truths I Learned from Sam to review. It was with a bit of […]

  2. Shari Green says:

    I loved this book! Glad you enjoyed it, too, however it managed to land on your shelf. 😉

  3. Thanks so much for the great review, Karyn. It inspires me to get writing!

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