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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Shelly Reuben’s My Mostly Happy Life: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree is the work of great imagination, as inspiring as it is engaging. It’s a story about the life of a community, centered on a park and told by a climbing tree. Sam Swerling is a WWII veteran who decides to gift his community with a park filled with trees. The Samuel Swerling Park then becomes a wonderful place of leisure, enjoyed by lovers, painters, and children who love to climb the trees. The Climbing Tree enjoys the activities that take place in the park and becomes a great witness to human stories and interactions, but then there is Jarvis Larchmont, a politician who was thrown out of the park in his childhood for bullying and who has been the cause of pain to the Climbing Tree. The Climbing Tree has enjoyed a long and happy life, but tragedy looms ahead and that life could end unexpectedly with the hurricane. What follows is moving and it’s for the reader to find out.
It takes a lot of intelligence and skill to make readers love a character, but to make a tree echo human sentiments is genius, and Shelly Reuben has it. Her story is told in a hypnotic first person narrative voice that grabs the reader’s attention from the first lines: “Trees get to know a lot of people. The longer we live, the more people we know. And the more we know about them.” This got me intrigued and, out of sheer curiosity, I continued reading, and then couldn’t stop. The author injects a lot of humanity and realism into the narrative and readers can't help feeling connected to the narrator. My Mostly Happy Life: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree is a masterpiece, told with great illustrations and a lot of human emotion, a story that links the reader to the environment. I have never read anything like this before.