The Tree-Sitter


•Shortlisted for the PEN New England/L. L. Winship prize (2006)

A privileged and gifted Wellesley student, Julie Prince seems destined for success—until she falls in love with Neil, a young environmental activist. Following him to the old-growth forests of Oregon, where she sees firsthand the gravity of the threat, she joins a group of tree-sitters attempting to protect the endangered landscape from destruction. But when Neil’s acts of protest turn violent, Julie must weigh her own course: What will be lost by doing nothing? What will be sacrificed by going too far?


W. W. Norton, 2006 (Hardcover), 246 pp., ISBN 0-393-06046-2

W. W. Norton, 2007 (Paperback), 246 pp., ISBN 0-393-32944-5

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“A confounding but compelling romance with impeccable timing.” —Los Angeles Times

The Tree-Sitter is so well-written, I forgot I was reading and just let myself be carried along.” —Trish Crapo, Women’s Review of Books

“Matson incisively explores urgent questions about our abuse of nature, the difficulty of achieving social change, and the despair that leads to violence. . . . Matson makes a vital connection between personal awakenings and the environmental and political realities with which we all must contend.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“The strength of the novel lies in the details of life in the woods, which emerge in sharp focus. [Matson] knows her territory, both geographical and political.” —Judith Barrington, Oregonian

“Through the lens of first love, Suzanne Matson raises questions of morality and responsibility, of idealism and identity. As each page of The Tree-Sitter is turned, you will ask yourself: What would I do? How far would I go? Could I risk everything? It’s rare for fiction to push its protagonist and its readers to such moral dilemmas, but Matson is unflinching.” —Ann Hood, author of An Ornithologist’s Guide to Life

“In The Tree-Sitter Suzanne Matson introduces us to the secret world of tree-sitters—those people we sometimes glimpse on the evening news—and shows us that falling in love with a tree can be every bit as complicted and demanding as falling in love with a human. With its vivid characters, suspenseful plot, and moral complexity, this is a wonderful and very timely novel.” —Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona

“At once luminous and dark, The Tree-Sitter asks age-old questions in a brand-new world. This is Suzanne Matson’s most gripping, resonant, and timely book to date.” —Elizabeth Graver, author of Awake

The Tree-Sitter is one of those rare, elegantly written, quietly intense books that, without resorting to sensationalism or fanfare, winds up keeping you awake at night. Not only are the main characters wonderfully human and engaging—and the situations they put themselves in truly suspenseful—but Suzanne Matson has given us a timely, thoughtul, morally complex novel about what’s come to be known as ‘eco-terrorism,’ which is not so far removed from its ugly cousin, global terrorism, as its practitioners might think.” —Suzanne Berne, author of A Ghost at the Table