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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Fantasy / Contemporary
  • Language:English
  • Pages:292
  • Paperback ISBN:9780988418158

My Mostly Happy Life

Autobiography of a Climbing Tree

by Shelly Reuben

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After serving in World War II, Samuel Swerling, a family man and inventor, created a wonderful park filled with large, leafy trees that were trained to grow in such a way that they would be easy to climb. People fell in love in the Samuel Swerling Park. Painters painted pictures, dogs chased Frisbees, and pretty girls basked in the sun. It was an idyllic place where time stood still. Most of all, though, children did what Sam had created the park for them to do. They climbed trees. The narrator of this book is one of those trees. He and his fellow trees thrive on human contact, and in their long and happy lives, they have had few disappointments. Time passes. Sam’s grandchildren, particularly Esther Swerling, are now in charge of the park. Esther is young, beautiful, and like Sam, an inventor. When a hurricane floods the area, she and her family provide food, warmth, and shelter to those in the park seeking refuge from the storm. At the same time, Jarvis Larchmont, a power-hungry politician who was thrown off the grounds years ago for bullying, is put in charge of the city’s recreational facilities. Still bitterly resentful about his treatment as a child, he joins forces with ecco-terrorists to destroy Samuel Swerling's dream. Suddenly, our narrator and his fellow climbing trees are separated from the very life-force that they were created to serve. They are separated from children. The trees cry, and they begin to die. Then Esther, her friends, and her family organize. And they fight back.


“In this fantastical tale, by turns charming and pensive, Shelly Reuben gives us a park-dwelling, talking tree as our storyteller. And from this leafy perch, we too are viewers, observing a community’s unfolding joys, sorrows, memories, and triumphs. Curious children, romantic couples, and sage elders share their experiences, not knowing about the enchanted autobiography underway.   

“The title is a reminder that even the most verdant refuge is never perfect. An interloper determined to bring dissension to the cast of characters must be uprooted. It is in this battle against evil—played out in scenes ranging from witty to poignant—that the book’s deeper meanings come to the surface.  The black-and-white illustrations have just the right combination of realism and fantasy. Otherworldly, but still…human. And humane.”  Mary F. Holahan - Curator of Illustration, Delaware Art Museum  

Among the characters within these pages meet: 

Samuel Swerling: A World War II veteran and inventor, determined to create a park with trees that “positively begged children to leap into their branches and climb!”

Alonso Hannah: A one-armed arborist with a genius for training trees to grow in directions that either defy or improve upon nature, depending on your point of view.

Esther Swerling: The grandchild Sam always longed for who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, eagerly answered, “I want to be you, Grandpa.”

Ethan’s Best Friend: A bird named Pal, so valiant and loyal, a plaque about him in Sam’s park reads: “Twix man and bird in such a way; did love and friendship save the day.”

Mike Hurwitz: The Commissioner of Parks, with a “passion for flowers, shrubs, and trees,” who is absent without leave when his beloved plants need him most.

About the author
Shelly Reuben’s first novel, Julian Solo, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America and a Prometheus Award by the Libertarian Futurist Society. Her crime novel, Origin and Cause, was nominated for a Falcon award by the Maltese Falcon Society of Japan, and her adult fable, The Man With the Glass Heart, was a Freedom Book Club selection. Shelly Reuben writes newspaper columns for The Evening Sun and HuntingtonNews.Net. Her fiction has been published by Scribner, Harper, Harcourt, Dodd, Mead & Company, Blackstone Audio Books, and more.

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