Kati Tervo
Publication date
August 2014  
Format info
200 pages

The Family Tree


A moving novel about women who couldn’t be more different – and the family that unites them

Little Heidi reluctantly visits her sick grandmother, who is slumped over in her armchair like the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, snarling and yapping in a foreign language. When she grows up, Heidi travels to Germany to dig into her grandmother’s past and uncover her own roots.

In 1912, the schoolgirl Adele Schumacher falls in love with Johannes Hukkanen, a foreigner studying German in Dresden, and follows him back to Finland. As luck would have it, there is little resemblance between the dreams Adele nursed and the reality of her new home and homeland: she is greeted by a sharp-tongued mother-in-law who feels that her son’s German bride would have served herself best by having remained in her own cabbage patch.

The fates of the individual Hukkanens and the Schumachers are lived out against a backdrop of 20th century turmoil: one moves to America and adopts an Indian boy; another ends up in a gas chamber. Through these individual stories, Heidi Hukkanen draws her family tree, whose sturdiest branches, the women who have gone before, burst into life once more to speak a powerful, personal truths.


Reading material

Finnish edition
English sample


Praise for the work

”Kati Tervo’s first novel is a success.” – Helsingin Sanomat

“Tervo’s language is pithy and a pleasure to read. The emphasis of the narration is on events, but the laconic phrases continue to linger in your mind, deepening her message. All in all, The Family Tree is skilfully drawn .” – Helsingin Sanomat

“Kati Tervo has certainly succeeded. The Family Tree is in an ineffably passionate, emotionally dense book where women speak from their own perspectives. The narrators reflect on history and the painful bonds of family.” – Literature blog Oma aika

“Kati Tervo has written an engaging family saga. The language is pithy. The sentences are short but expressive. The story advances and flows smoothly. It avoids the shoals, offers sweet and savoury in turn – in other words, life. ” – Literature blog Linnunmaitoa ja vähän hunajaakin

“What a fine achievement from Kati Tervo. The Family Tree is intense and vividly atmospheric in an indefinable way, with women who talk about their own perspectives.” – Literature blog Anna-Liisan blogi