Naseem Rakha is a journalist turned author whose debut novel THE CRYING TREE tackles a subject most of us avoid talking about in polite company.  The death penalty.

The book is centered around Irene Stanley, a mother who begins a journey from anger and grief to forgiveness when her teenage son is brutally murdered in an apparent robbery. But Naseem’s goal was to present a well-rounded view of the death penalty so in addition the stories of the victim’s family, she also gives us the story of the convicted murderer and the prison superintendent who is charged with carrying out the sentence.

I had the chance to talk with Naseem by telephone a short time ago and we talked about where the idea for the book came from, why she chose fiction as her vehicle and how the book has been received.

We also talked about some of the choices she made in the book for her characters and why she made them.

I can tell you that there is a pretty big twist in the story – one you’ll want to talk about after you read it – so this might be a good book to suggest to your book club or to read at the same time as a friend.  I did find some of the imagery and symbolism in the book to be heavy handed, but the characters (especially Irene) ring true and the book is nothing if not thought provoking.

During the interview, Naseem also gave me a little insight into what she’s working on now and it sounds like it will be another conversation starter!

Enjoy the interview and check out the rest of the podcast series, now on iTunes!

— Dana Barrett, Managing Editor