Writers such as Ann Patchett, Laura van den Berg, Mat Johnson, and others consider a trait they've inherited from a parent. Together, these all-new essays form a prismatic meditation on how we make fresh sense of ourselves and our parents when we see the traces of them that live on in us.
Undoubtedly, parents influence us more deeply and irrevocably than any other people in our lives ... This topic is given its rich and thoughtful due in Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents, an engrossing anthology of 25 delightfully diverse personal essays ... In a wonderful array of entertaining and very different stories, they reveal their parents’ quirks, their heroism, their hobbies, their secrets, their successes and their failures ... But if those faults can be examined and explored and wrestled into such fascinating and insightful essays as these, they’re well worth the trouble.
Funderburg offers little narrative structure, letting essays meander rather than grouping them. The result is a relaxed, pleasant reading experience, more like dinner-party conversation than a panel discussion ... The caretaking essays, which mainly center on memory loss, are surprisingly pithy, often handling colossal grief with stoicism and unromantic wit ... Not one essay veers into sentimentality. Most are quick and chatty, emphasizing voice and anecdote above all. Only Skurnick plays with style in a meaningful way. As a result, the collection can blur together slightly. But individually, the essays are strong and sharp; they will reward the reader who dips in and out, who alternates several books rather than reading one at a time. Apple, Tree is a sweet, smart collection, and—it has to be said—a perfect gift for a parent you love.
...[a] sparkling anthology of essays ... These essays particularly excel with serving up memorable last lines ... These essays, in addition to being resonant in their own right, will also move readers to recollect stories of their own parents.