The Giving Tree is a controversial and depressing book. Reading it now as an adult, I was struck by the weight of the story and the depth that was there. The story involves a tree slowly giving of herself to a young boy as he grows from a child to an adult, and the tree gives until she has almost nothing left. Eventually the boy comes back as an old man and just sits with the tree, making both of them happy. Now, the book has been seen both as a parable on the joys of parenting, and a harsh look at a very one-sided relationship. I’m not sure what I made of it as a child (likely nothing), but as an adult there is so much depth there. What makes the story inspiring is quite simple – after the boy has taken all of his material needs from the tree, he realizes in the end that all he really needed was the tree itself. Life isn’t about what you have, it’s about who you have. It isn’t an easy lesson for either of them, but both the boy and the tree realize it in the end.
~ Stephen Russ
87 - The Help»