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The Author

Bio

Naseem Rakha author of The Crying TreeNaseem is an award-winning author and journalist whose stories have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace Radio, Christian Science Monitor, and Living on Earth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and many animals. When Naseem isn’t writing, she’s reading, knitting, hiking, gardening, or just watching the seasons roll in and out.

The capacity to forgive the unforgivable has long intrigued Rakha. She has witnessed it in her work as a teacher and consultant for Native American tribes, as a mediator in the clean up of the nuclear site that created the Nagasaki bomb, and as a reporter covering state run executions. It was this later experience that led her to write her groundbreaking novel The Crying Tree. Set in southern Illinois and central Oregon, Rakha tells a story of a mother who must overcome the hate, grief, and secrets that surround the murder of her 15-year-old son, and defy church and family as she attempts to stop the execution of the man who killed her boy.

With the heart of a storyteller, Naseem explores the death penalty and forgiveness with her audience through the lens of our justice system, her experiences as a reporter for public radio, as well as subsequent interviews with crime victims, inmates, corrections officials and exonerated death row prisoners. In composing her work, Naseem relies on the backdrop of the land and the landscape of human lives to build drama, emotion and depth. Naseem finds that within these very human stories lie a multitude of lessons about duty, honor, grief, pain, hatred and the degree to which forgiveness can not only extend but also heal. For writers searching for their own voice, Naseem has much to offer with her methods of reaching readers through characters and place.

Naseem is represented by Laney Katz Becker of Markson Thoma Literary Agency in NYC.

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From The Author

The murder of a child dredges up the most painful emotions. There is no justice in it, no justification, and no way to find solace. Remorse and vengeance become inseparable from the souls of the people left behind. Yet, somehow there are inspirational stories of those who have come to forgiveness.

I found this baffling situation as a reporter covering an execution for public radio and then later in interviews with the parents of murder victims. I wanted to understand how an individual can move from one place to another – hate to forgiveness, despondency to hope – what that road looks like, and what toll it must exact.

THE CRYING TREE is that story, told through the lives of two main characters: Irene Stanley, the mother of slain 15-year-old Steven Joseph Stanley, and Tab Mason, the stoic and determined superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary who is preparing to execute the boy’s murderer. Powerful and touching, this book provides insight into how murder, death row, capital punishment, and enduring these experiences deeply impact victims’ families.

THE CRYING TREE is a story of things not being what they seem, family secrets and how they reverberate through lives, and being submerged in loss, yet finding ways to go on. It’s a story of forgiveness and redemption and of the difficult decisions that lead people through life and that ultimately give life meaning.

THE CRYING TREE is set in both southern Illinois, central Oregon, and Salem's Oregon State Penitentiary.