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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

Heartbreaking. Heartwarming. Grief and Loss. Love and Discovery. Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen book cover over photo of trees by Terrie Purkey

Harry's Trees, Jon Cohen

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2018, 432 pages

I'm going to say it right up front: I loved this book. Here's what drew me in. I loved how there are two main threads of the story and both start with loss - not in a way that is graphic or overly dramatic, but, tears start the story. Then as thread #1 begins and Harry tries to deal with his loss, he returns to his first love: trees, forest, nature.

The writing style is simple and accessible though covering topics like loss, grief, guilt, love and restoration.

“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.”
“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.”

Then, I love the focus on trees and nature.

japanese maple photo by Terrie Purkey
“A quality that always amazed him about trees: the constancy of their temperature. In winter, trees are never cold to the touch, and in summer they give off no acquired solar heat. It spoke to their essential aliveness. They were not rocks growing warm in the midday sun or streams that froze over; they were as self-regulating as the human body. It was a small leap to imagine that trees had souls.”

I love Oriana (thread #2), the little girl who believes in fairy tales and believes that she'll see her dad again - as an angel. I love the touch of magic in coincidence and how all the characters move out of their grief. I even like the couple of sleazy, 'bad guys' - they're so interestingly terrible! I would not characterize this book as sad even though it's about such devastating loss. I would characterize it as uplifting and how it IS possible to survive and find love again.

“He didn't know kids, but he knew that Oriana was a fellow traveler. It scared him, it really did, but he sensed that, inexplicably, she needed something only he could provide. Winter was over, but spring had not yet come for him and Oriana. They were between uncharted seasons, at the cusp of change, but only at the cusp. He didn't know kids, but he supposed that sometimes a kid needed something she couldn't find at home, but only in the wild of the forest.”

I particularly liked that the prose remained thoughtful and didn't descend into sweetness.

I found this book on the recommendation of Anne Bogel at #ModernMrsDarcy and read it in December 2018; it's one of those lovely books that has stuck with me. I'd buy a copy for everyone if I could! I'd highly recommend this book when you are in the mood for a lovely relationship story, with just a touch of magic.

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