The Education of Little Tree has been embedded in controversy since the revelation that the autobiographical story told by Forrest Carter was a complete fabrication. The touching novel, which has entranced readers since it was first published in 1976, has since raised questions, many unanswered, about how this quaint and engaging tale of a young, orphaned boy could have been written by a man whose life was so overtly rooted in hatred. How can this story, now discovered to be fictitious, fill our hearts with so much emotion as we champion Little Tree's childhood lessons and future successes?
The Education of Little Tree tells with poignant grace the story of a boy who is adopted by his Cherokee grandmother and half-Cherokee grandfather in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee during the Great Depression. Little Tree, as his grandparents call him, is shown how to hunt and survive in the mountains and taught to respect nature in the Cherokee Way--taking only what is needed, leaving the rest for nature to run its course. Little Tree also learns the often callous ways of white businessmen, sharecroppers, Christians, and politicians. Each vignette, whether frightening, funny, heartwarming, or sad, teaches our protagonist about life, love, nature, work, friendship, and family. A classic of its era and an enduring book for all ages, The Education of Little Tree continues to share important lessons. Little Tree's story allows us to reflect on the past and look toward the future. It offers us an opportunity to ask ourselves what we have learned and where it will take us.