In the mid-nineties, journalist Naseem Rakha was wrapped up in covering one of Oregon's first executions in three decades—a man named Douglas Wright who was convicted of murdering three homeless men. This experience, combined with other experiences interviewing family members of murder victims during her career working for National Public Radio and other publications left an indelible impression on Rakha.
"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," Rakha wrote on her Web site. "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 end result of all of these questions is Rakha's novel, The Crying Tree. The book follows the struggles of Irene Stanley, mother of murder-victim Steven Joseph Stanley, and her long path to forgiving the man who is on death row for her son's murder.
"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," wrote Rakha. "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."
The Crying Tree has received considerable attention since it was released last month, being featured at the Emerging Voices series at BookExpo America and selected to be featured in Barnes and Noble's fall campaign "Discover Great New Writers." Rakha will stop into Rediscovered Bookshop off Overland Road for coffee and conversation.
Thursday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m., FREE, Rediscovered Bookshop, 7079 Overland Road, 208-376-4229, rediscoveredbookshop.com.