Be careful what you wish for . . . sometimes the cost is greater than the rewards.
Fourteen-year-old Julia wishes her town was a kinder, better place to live. A magical apple tree appears and gives super-powers to all who eat from it; but it’s addictive, and the powers soon turn dark. Julia must travel to another dimension to redeem herself, her family, and her town from the curse of the Tree of Good and Evil.
When a fast-growing tree-shoot springs up in the middle of Julia Genesee’s backyard, her parents pick it like a weed. Asking herself why everyone has to be so mean, the 14-year-old eighth-grader from the town of Humansville would have loved to climb its branches one day. She desperately wants Humansville to be a better place to live. As she heads off to school, it starts raining. When she returns home, she is excited to find a full-grown tree in her backyard. The tree is filled with green leaves and red, juicy apples. A dripping wet player piano sits next to it, making haunting music.
As her parents and brother Nathan come home, they join her in the backyard. Each is perplexed by the mysterious tree. Julia bites into a gorgeous, shiny apple from the tree, but her dog Meatloaf barks a warning—worms are crawling from the fruit. Julia drops the apple after swallowing a chunk, and Meatloaf kicks it under a bush. Out of curiosity, everyone in Julia’s family eats the glistening apples on the tree anyhow. Despite their attempts, there is no way to turn off the player piano. It plays creepy music all night long and keeps the neighbors awake.
The next day, Julia and her family have superpowers from the apples. They are each taller in stature and stronger in form than they have ever been. With bulging muscles, Julia can lift the family car from the driveway. Nathan can throw the football to the end of the street, his mother and father can re-arrange the dining room furniture in minutes. Despite the worms in the apples, everyone in her family craves more apples and the results of eating them. Meatloaf continues to bark at them . . . to no avail. Julia’s mother even makes batches and batches of homemade applesauce so they can eat handfuls of the fruit at once. Life seems so much easier when eating the rotten apples, except when Julia gets detention at school for slamming the bathroom door shut and breaking a window. She also bumps a lab table in chemistry class and accidentally knocks it over, shattering its glass bottles and flasks.
After school, Julia notices a scantily-dressed woman crawling in the tree, singing along with the player piano. As the story goes, the woman says its music has the power to bring life or death, and Julia gets to decide which one she wants for her town. As a descendant of Eve, the first woman, she says her name is Evelyn and shares the legend of the Tree of Good and Evil with Julia, saying the Tree appears from time to time to test people. After all, when Julia said she wanted Humansville to be a better place, she did ask for the Tree’s appearance. Until the town understands its faults, how will it ever be a more gracious place to live? Evelyn recounts the time when Eve and her husband Adam ate its apples and were kicked out of Eden. She observes that Julia and her family have clearly become addicted to the Tree’s apples. Julia says that sounds similar to what her science teacher taught about rats and mice becoming addicted to narcotics and other illegal drugs.
When Evelyn disappears, Julia gathers the apples from the Tree and hides them in her bedroom so no one else can get any. But as soon as she picks the apples, the Tree grows more fruit. Meatloaf barks at her as she hides the apples, howling at the fruit, instead of being tempted by it. As man’s best friend, the dog tries to protect Julia from the poison. Even if the apples make her big and strong, Julia decides she doesn’t want to be addicted to them and doesn’t think anyone else should, either. The apples grow back overnight. Later that night, Evelyn appears asleep on a tree branch, mumbling something to Julia that her family can’t see Evelyn. Why? Simply put, her family did not ask for the Tree.
Although Julia tries to stop eating the apples, she suffers from withdrawals and feels like she’s hallucinating. She thinks she has no choice but to eat another apple. After she eats the fruit, she temporarily feels better, but then ends up destroying everything in her path in a fit of rage. She realizes that she got her powers too easily and did not earn the responsibility that comes with them. Hours later, she feels even worse, almost like she’s dying, and craves more apples. Julia’s family and neighbors who have stolen apples from the Tree act in violent ways, destroying the neighborhood. The Tree keeps producing more bad apples.
Longing to save Humansville, young Julia begs a very jealous Evelyn to tell her what to do. Although she wants to help humans learn a lesson, Evelyn also withholds information for a solution from Julia. As merely a messenger, Evelyn says she will never be a true human being and hates humans for their free will. After a wrestling match with Julia, Evelyn admits that she knows of a second tree, the Tree of Life . . . in Eden. The seeds of its fruit create an elixir that reverses the curse of the apples on the Tree of Good and Evil. She says there is a window that opens next to the Tree of Good and Evil at midnight on the seventh full day of the Tree’s appearance. When the player piano plays a magical song, the window allows a person to travel to Eden. If Evelyn helps Julia through the window, she wants Julia’s assistance in becoming human. Julia vows she will help Evelyn in any way that she can.
When the window finally appears, Julia jumps through it to find a golden tree, the Tree of Life. Then, Julia realizes that she is unable to get back through the window to Humansville. Sticking her head through the window, Evelyn gloats that she tricked Julia into leaving her friends and family to die in Humansville. If Evelyn can’t be a human, then the humans will die. If Julia wants to come back to her hometown, she can beseech Adam II, the new ruler of Eden. Evelyn says that it is only Adam II who can change her into a human being, and he has previously refused her request, saying that she is only a messenger and does not have the strength for free will. If Julia doesn’t speak to Adam II now, Evelyn says there is no hope for anyone in Humansville—Julia’s family and friends will die in a matter of three days.
After Julia seeks help from the residents of Eden to meet Adam II, she finds him on his throne of fire. Upon hearing Julia’s story, Adam II speaks to Evelyn through the window and chastises her for her lack of compassion for Humansville. Although he originally sent Evelyn to grant Julia’s wish for a better Humansville, Evelyn was not supposed to cause any havoc. Even though it was Evelyn’s first foray into the town, Adam II forbids Evelyn to ever become a human being. As punishment to Evelyn, he commands her to appear chained to the original Tree of Good and Evil in Eden for eternity, saying she will be a sign of the dangers of evil. She weeps in regret.
As Adam II opens the window to Humansville and sends Julia home, he gives her golden apple seeds from the Tree of Life. He tells her to make an elixir from the seeds to save her dying family and friends. Then he asks her to save one seed and plant a Tree of Life in Humansville as redemption.
After returning to Humansville, Julia visits her high school chemistry lab, makes the elixir, and runs to her family and friends with the potion. Meatloaf the dog goes with her, helping to save lives. When Julia rids the town of the cursed apples, the Tree of Good and Evil disappears, but the player piano remains for Julia as a reward for passing the test. She takes the piano inside her home. Although it now plays more hopeful melodies, she also learns to play it herself. All the while, she watches blossoms bloom on the Tree of Life as it grows in her backyard, wondering what test it might bring Humansville next. She realizes that Humansville improving itself was never that simple.