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  • Two Trees Make a Forest

  • In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts
  • Written by: Jessica J. Lee
  • Narrated by: Jessica J. Lee
  • Length: 5 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Travel & Tourism, Asia
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BEST SELLER
WINNER of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize
Shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021
One of The Globe and Mail’s “100 favourite books of 2020”
On CBC’s list of “the best Canadian nonfiction of 2020”

An exhilarating, anti-colonial reclamation of nature writing and memoir, rooted in the forests and flatlands of Taiwan from the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers

"Two Trees Make a Forest is a finely faceted meditation on memory, love, landscape - and finding a home in language. Its short, shining sections tilt yearningly toward one another; in form as well as content, this is a beautiful book about the distance between people and between places, and the means of their bridging." (Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland)

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.

Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.

©2020 Jessica J. Lee (P)2020 Hamish Hamilton

What the critics say

“Like a forest itself, Jessica J. Lee’s book is mesmerizing on the scale of both the intimate and the vast. With gorgeous language that sings in your head like the songs of the birds in the trees, she deftly stitches together nature and travel writing with history and memoir. This book is a triumph. It left me longing to pack my boots and set off for the dew-covered mountains of Taiwan.” (Juli Berwald, author of Spineless

“A poignant and beautifully written account of family, time, and place.” (Library Journal

“[A] luminescent exploration of family and landscape in Taiwan...a powerful, beautifully written account of the connections between people and the places they call home.” (The Times Literary Supplement

What listeners say about Two Trees Make a Forest

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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  • Story
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  • Kim
  • 2021-02-09

A great reminder!

The slow pace of the narrator and the story become a character in its telling. Chapter 13 was a great reminder of WHY we need to know our own history to enlighten us as to how far we have come and what next steps we should take.

1 person found this helpful

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A really fun and interesting book

This story perfectly intertwined the authors Heritage and the adventures that she made in Taiwan.

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Achingly Joyfully Poignant and Beautiful

This is one of the most beautifully and lovingly written books I have read in a very long time. The way Lee weaves together her search for home and her love for nature is arresting. I found myself crying at the beauty more than once. I look forward to her future books.

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I just couldn't get into it

I really wanted to like this book, but I found the botany aspect overshadowed the story so I was just waiting to get through those parts to get to the story. I didn't find myself connect to or anxious to learn about the fate of the characters, like I usually do. It, sadly, fell flat for me.