Thursday, July 11, 2019

Fiction Review: Harry's Trees

As soon as I heard about Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, when the new novel was released about a year ago, I knew I wanted to read it. It sounded right up my alley, with a focus on trees and nature. I had a chance to listen to this engaging, entrancing story on audio this summer for my Big Book Summer Challenge, and I loved the tale of connection and healing that is set in my neck of the woods (literally).

Harry Crane is an ordinary guy who works in a desk job in Philadelphia for the U.S. Forest Service. He spends his days in a cubicle, surrounded by paperwork, maps, and a computer instead of in the actual forest. He loved trees as a child, which is why he went into the Forest Service. When Harry's beloved wife dies unexpectedly and Harry feels responsible, he is devastated. A year later, he decides on a drastic action and travels to the Endless Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania to "his" stretch of the forest to carry it out. Instead, fate intervenes in the form of a lively little girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, live nearby, on the edge of the US Forest Service land and are also grieving. Oriana's father died about a year ago, too. Her coping response has been to immerse herself in fairy tales and magical thinking, believing that her father has taken the form of various birds in the forest. A kind librarian named Olive, a homemade fairy tale book called "The Grum's Ledger," and bags of gold round out the story, as Harry moves into a treehouse in the woods, and Oriana and Harry come up with a wild scheme to make things right.

This is one of those stories where people who need each other come together and connect at just the right time. Harry, Amanda, and Oriana have all suffered great loss, and each is coping (or not, in Harry's case) in his or her own way but struggling. I love the role that nature and trees play in this novel, as a place of healing, as Harry returns to his childhood roots and begins to climb the trees in the forest he has managed from afar and as Oriana plays in the woods and incorporates them into her fantasies. Her influence adds an element of magic to the story, as she helps Harry move from hopeless to rejoining the world with a sense of purpose, though her mother worries about her grip on reality. The audio book was well-done, narrated by Josh Bloomberg, and capturing all of the characters' sorrow and healing - and that element of magic - perfectly. Though it is a Big Book, I was completely engrossed in this story of healing from the startling beginning to the satisfying end.

432 pages, MIRA
Harlequin Audio


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.
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Listen to a sample of the audio book.


You can purchase Harry's Trees from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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4 comments:

  1. "This is one of those stories where people who need each other come together and connect at just the right time." <- I love this sort of story! They're always so heartwarming :)

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  2. This sounds like a perfect book for you with all the camping and nature trips you take!

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    1. Yes, exactly! Especially this summer, as I've been trapped inside with this awful heat - at least I got to enjoy the outdoors vicariously with Harry!

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