Member News: Crooked Grow the Trees by Carmel Hanes

Carmel Hanes announces the release of Crooked Grow the Trees. Congratulations, Carmel!

Here is the announcement:

• Mass shootings

• Prisons and detention centers at capacity

• Students expelled in elementary school

• Adults polarized in contentious ideological debates

How did we get here?

As a school psychologist I worked for over thirty years in public school and detention centers with students identified as being the most challenging for classrooms. During that time the first school shooting took place in a town near me. In my quest to understand how this could happen, I spent time with incarcerated youth and studied trauma’s influence on behavior. A growing body of research shows that early trauma and chronic stress can leave a lasting impact on the development of a person, and those incarcerated have long histories of such trauma.

Our children are being lost to suicides, drug overdoses,and gang violence. They are being traumatized by divorce, domestic violence, neglect, and sexual or physical abuse. They are being challenged by poverty and the loss of opportunity it creates. We have kindergarten students entering schools so ill-equipped to deal with social and academic expectations they lose control, injure teachers, and get suspended. We have children whose basic needs are not met (not enough food, lack of safety), and who are marginalized and adrift in their social worlds. We have young people who have not experienced loving accountability, who are lost in classrooms much too large to feel nourishing connection, and who may experience outright rejection. We have children raising each other, or losing themselves in a cold, impersonal cyber world, as parents are either disinterested, absent, ill, or too overwhelmed trying to make a living to provide the guidance and interaction needed for healthy development. Our world is full of struggling people, young and old.

Our culture is greatly divided in policies and opinions when viewing and reacting to misbehaving people of all ages, but particularly our children. Mass shooters are demonized and relegated to the categories of “evil” or “mentally ill”; as “different from us”. ‘Crooked Grow the Trees’ gives a face and voice to the disenfranchised, often created by life experiences beyond their control. It hints at the possible origins of a mass shooter. It explores how a self-view gets formed.

This book was written to raise awareness, to challenge assumptions, to ask the reader to take a deeper look at those around us, acknowledging we all have a back story that is hidden from view, but affects us, nonetheless. It was written for the discerning reader, concerned about social issues while appreciating a compelling story with deep character development.