Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Book Review: Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen

"What else is a library, but a temple of truth? What other function do books have, the great ones, but to change the reader? Books to comfort. But most of all, books to disturb you forward."
I'm a lover of books of magical realism (Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin may be one of my most favorite books), so Harry's Trees is perfect for me. I will venture that it might also be a perfect story for most readers.
It begins very sadly for both Harry and Amanda, our protagonists, who've both lost their spouses. Oriana, Amanda's daughter, seeks solace for the loss of her father in fairy tales, aided by the "witchy" local librarian. Their lives collide a year later as each of the three tries to find a solution for their grief.
This is a beautiful story, set against the backdrop of the Endless Mountains in Pennsylvania. I was surprised to find it an actual place and perfect for Harry who has loved trees most of his life. Every character has an important place in the book and multiple stories weave their way through the story. Even the minor characters have satisfying endings, which one doesn't always find and I enjoy.
And of course, there's a lot of symbolism and magic - not overt, no wands or mystical spells - but the best and worst part of fairy tales: red coats, portentous feathers, heroes and villains, and significant coincidences.
This is one of those books I'll reread. It's a wonderful story about hope and love.
“Because it’s worth it. Worth the risk and the pain. Of all the glorious enchantments of this world—spring, snow, laughter, red roses, dogs, books—love is by far the best.”

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