[Book Review] Harry’s Trees – Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees
Author: Jon Cohen
Published: 2018
Genre: Fiction
My Rating: ★★

Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane, lifelong lover of trees, works as an analyst in a treeless US Forest Service office. When his wife dies in a freak accident, devastated, he makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, intent on losing himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She, too, has lost someone—her father. And in the magical, willful world of her reckoning, Oriana believes that Harry is the key to finding her way back to him. 

As Harry agrees to help the young girl, the unlikeliest of elements—a tree house, a Wolf, a small-town librarian and a book called The Grum’s Ledger—come together to create the biggest sensation ever to descend upon the Endless Mountains…a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open the door to a new life for Harry.

Because I wasn’t already weighted down by an insane TBR pile, I decided this year to join a book club for the first time. This was January’s pick. I would never have grabbed it otherwise, since I hadn’t heard of it or Cohen. I think even if I had found it on my own, I wouldn’t have chosen to read it since the synopsis didn’t draw me in.

The story didn’t need to be told in 432 pages. It didn’t even need half that. If Cohen had cut all the extra fluff and characters, I wouldn’t have had to plow my way through a slow and meandering plot. It took sooo looong to read and the payoff wasn’t worth it.

Call me old fashioned, but a year to mourn a beloved spouse is not long enough (TBH, I fully expect my boyfriend to throw himself on my funeral pyre). Only a few months pass before Amanda, the love interest who lost her husband at the same time Harry lost his wife, begins feeling the urge for physical comfort and throws herself at the local dairy farmer. Out of the entire cast, her character irritated me the most. In every scene, she’s painted as this oversexed Amazon. The men in the town obsess over her. To the point where they feel possessive and gang up on Harry because he’s sitting with her in her booth at the local diner. It’s so unrealistic and blatantly written by a male.

I also don’t agree with the way Harry deals with his grief. Okay, he tries to kill himself, I get that. But then he’s given four million dollars from the construction company that caused the death of his wife. And what does he do with it? He and Amanda’s inhuman daughter exchange it all for gold, stuff it in burlap sacks, and give it away to random people.

What sorta sick freaks do that?

Wolf, the main villain and Harry’s older brother, and Olive, the wizened librarian, are the only characters that make any sort of sense. He wants money and she wants to save her library. These are people I can respect. The rest, I couldn’t make myself care about.

Also, trees really don’t do that much for me. Yes, I like oxygen and all that, but I don’t need description after description of the different types. I’ve never even climbed a tree nor had any inclination to.

Harry’s Trees is a story about grief and greed, and it shows that magic can exist, not only in stories, but in every day life. Or some crap. Whatever. I just know I will be donating this book. I hope someone else will find the magic in it that I apparently missed.