When Harry’s wife dies, while he is buying a lottery ticket, he is overcome with grief and guilt. He leaves his job working for the Forest Service and finds his way to a remote wood in northeastern Pennsylvania. While finding himself among the trees his life becomes intwined with a young girl name Oriana and her mother Amanda who are also dealing with a loss. The characters find themselves involved in a real life fairy tale that changes their lives as only a fairy tale could.
Harry’s Trees was often a heartbreaking experience. The grief felt when someone dies is devastating and Harry, Oriana and Amanda all experiences that grief and struggle to find their place in their new world. They each have different ways of dealing with their grief and they each learn to open their hearts once again to other people. Jon Cohen does a fantastic job in describing not only the grief and the emotional aspect of the book but also in describing the forest and the trees. Descriptions of trees can easily become boring in the wrong hands but Cohen made them interesting and in some ways the setting of the forest becomes a personalized character and not just a place for the story to take place.
This is a story about fairy tales, grief, books, quests, death, love, living life, riches, healing, regret, deliverance, magic. I’m not one to look for symbolism in books but there were so many times when I just couldn’t help myself thinking, “hmmm flowers opening, new beginnings”. There are many narrators in the book. Harry is the biggest narrator but I think every character gets an opportunity to narrate at some point. This enabled me to really look into a character and understand a bit about the decisions they made and the way they were.
The book would be perfect if it wasn’t for the men in the town and their views of Amanda. Every man in town looked up to Amanda, but not in a motivational way but in a sexual way. I quickly grew tired of hearing every single man in town wanting Amanda. I think Amanda was suppose to be portrayed as a strong woman but by making her the object of every man’s sexual desire I felt like that became her purpose in the book.
Except for my problems with the Amanda character and storyline I loved everything about the book. It was slow paced, reflective, descriptive and character driven.
This is a great book to discuss with others. So many themes and ideas to explore. For instance, even though I did not like the way Amanda was portrayed I have my suspicions as to why it works.
Have you read Harry’s Trees? What would you love to discuss?