MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Harry's Trees

by Jon Cohen

Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen X
Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2018, 432 pages
    Jun 2019, 432 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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Print Excerpt

Harry windmilled his arms, fought to regain his balance. But off the wall he went. He whipped both hands over his head and grabbed the rope just before it snapped taut, the pain in his shoul-ders instant and searing as he swung out from the wall. Flailing legs, slipping hands, the door to Eternity opening—and one final vision—a pair of great angel wings unfolding inches from his face, followed by one final physical sensation—feathers brushing his cheeks, his eyes closing at the touch.

Then crack! His neck snapped.



No, not his neck—but the branch snapping off the tree. The rope went slack as Harry dropped kicking and thrashing to the ground. He landed on his ass, the force of the fall throwing his head backward against the base of the stone wall, hard enough to fracture his skull. A second chance at death.

He saw a flash of golden stars that turned into a galaxy of mini Snickers twinkling and fading into darkness.

His eyes fluttered open.


Opened again.

He lay against the base of the wall staring up at the sky, the noose still around his neck, the rope tangled in the tree branch that lay beside him in pieces. His eyes focused, and he saw a large hawk rising through the treetops. Not angel-winged Death—a red-tailed hawk. Harry felt the otherworldly pull of the great bird in flight, and in the next instant he felt the equal pull of gravity and the earthly fact of himself. His back ached and his head was killing him. He groaned and touched the back of his skull. Lump, no blood.

Exploring further, his fingers brushed against something flat and smooth that was not stone. He went up on an elbow and turned. It was an old book, and it had saved his head from splitting open on the wall like a dropped watermelon. He held the book, leaned back against the wall and stared into the forest.

He saw something.

Then he saw a lot of somethings.

"Holy shit," he said.

In his dazed march through the forest, searching for the perfect tree from which to hang himself, he had not noticed. It was not just the one mini Snickers in a knothole. There was candy everywhere. On top of tree stumps. Balanced on branches. Dangling from bushes. Three Musketeers, Hershey Bars, Skittles. And juice pouches, too. And Ziploc snack bags filled with cookies. Much of it was weathered and gnawed on by animals. He squinted at several colorful dots pressed into the craggy bark of a nearby white pine—Peanut M&M's.

But before he could process any of it—book, hawk, candy—another element entered his consciousness: people. On the other side of the wall, voices and footsteps, approaching fast. He scrunched against the wall, yanked the noose from around his neck, and stuffed it in among the rocks and leaves.

The hawk circled directly overhead, around and around the treetops, as if it had laid claim to Harry.

While Harry had been atop the wall busy failing to hang himself, Amanda and Oriana were nearby, making their way through the forest in fits and starts, arguing heatedly. They were not walking. They were stomping. It was a good thing there were a lot of thick tree trunks separating them as they stomped along.

"I didn't know I was gone so long, okay?" shouted Oriana as she passed a white oak. She whapped the trunk with her hand. Glared at her mother.

"You knew," Amanda shouted back at her. Amanda bumped a slender quaking aspen. It dropped a shower of dry yellow leaves in surrender to her anger.

They came to a clearing and faced each other. Circled like sumo wrestlers, eyes narrowing darkly, opponents taking measure.

"We need to get some things straight, young lady," said Amanda.

"I know what you're going to say," said Oriana. "You're going to say I shouldn't steal food and hide it in the woods."

Excerpted from Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen. Copyright © 2018 by Jon Cohen. Excerpted by permission of Mira. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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