Each and every one of us has a story - the composite of our individual life experiences that makes us the person we are at this very moment. Jon Cohen beautifully displays this reality for the reader through a motley cast of characters (from the lovable to the despicable) in the magical world of Harry’s Trees.
Two major themes Cohen expertly addresses in this book involve grief and magic. In real life, grief does not come with a handbook that cross-applies to every situation. We each handle and process grief in different ways and on our own unique timeframes. As a reader, it was heartwarming to observe Harry (while mired in his own grief) help Oriana heal from her grief. I don’t want to expose too much of the storyline with examples from the book so I will not detail the meaningful moments of the character’s grieving and healing processes other than to say that it was authentically and beautifully written.
In addition to grief, I was completely and happily immersed in the fairytale-like nature of this book. Although we, the reader, observe moments of magical realism in the story, I think the author points us to those little moments of serendipity in our real lives where fairy-tale magic and the real world convene. Woven through the story are additional themes of love, loss, regret, abandonment, greed, healing, the beauty of nature, insecurity, guilt, the importance of human touch, new beginnings, the innocence of childhood, childhood lost, lifeboats, combining the old with the new, letting go, breaking emotional chains and the power of fairy tales.
If you enjoy creative, original stories that link both the real and moments of magic, pick up a copy of Harry’s Trees today!
Title: Harry’s Trees
Author: Jon Cohen
Publisher: MIRA Books
Favorite Quotes from Harry’s Trees:
“Oh my. You have a story.” - Olive to Harry
“It’s only five words long - she died a year ago. And I’m out here to say goodbye. Which turns out to be a long and complicated process. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish saying it.”
“Olive reached for him, and they sat for a long moment, Harry and the old woman, holding hands on the stone wall. ‘You never finish, Harry. I’m not finished with it either. Why does the universe allow love to happen? Against such odds - death, abandonment and a thousand other misfortunes and ordeals - why would we risk falling in love? When it can be snatched from us at anytime for any reason?’ Harry looked away. Olive closed his fingers over the wedding band. ‘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.’ ”
“ ‘ By its very nature, though, love is tragic. You can’t protect it. No matter how tightly you hold onto the one you love, they leave you or you leave them. That’s what life is, loving and letting go. I am grateful to those two young lovers of sixty years ago. I am so grateful to have tasted love. But all love ends tragically. Because tragically, love always ends. What a heartbreaking and wondrous conundrum!’ “
“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.”
“He was not an all-knowing god, after all. He was simply a man trying to heal the heart of a little girl by making her fairy tale come true.”
“Oriana looking at him, so intently. What did she see? The grum of course. And what would she see when he plinked away the final piece of gold? Would she like him as much when the grum turned into plain old Harry? So complicated, when life has been transformed into a fairy tale and a fairy tale into life.”
“ ‘Is everything a story to you?’ Harry called after her. ‘Absolutely!’ came Olive’s voice. ‘I’m a librarian, dear!’ “
“Deep are the bonds of friendship. Long are the memories or discord.”