Slow opening. It took me a while to get into the story, partly because of the switching between past and present and partly because (for me at least) there were supporting characters tossed in a little too frequently and rapidly. This mostly passed off after a few chapters, though near the end the reunion got a bit confusing again.
Cliché ending. The ending is a bit of an old joke in one sense, though I can't explain without spoiling it. This is largely due to the well-meaning relatives who have evidently been reading the wrong magazine articles and watching way too much TV. It veers a bit into generic spirituality--the kind that may reasonably be labeled merely "inspirational."
Too close to home? There were places where people or situations were a little too familiar--I've run into some of this myself, and the memories weren't always good. Some people may be more bothered than I was. That can't be predicted; it will vary widely from reader to reader and is one of the dangers of an emotionally involving story.
Conclusion. On the whole, Not Far From the Tree is an engaging story with some good life-lessons attached. It may also serve a pre-evangelistic function, because the Christian element, though clear, probably won't seem threatening to most unsaved readers.
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