A Key to Treehouse Living

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William Tyce, abandoned by his parents and left in the care of his gambler uncle, narrates A Key to Treehouse Living, the brilliant debut novel from Elliot Reed. Written as a series of definitions, not always in alphabetical order for reasons Tyce explains early on, the book is a coming of age tale with echoes of Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield.

In William, Reed has created a young man whose heartbreak and desire to make sense of the world evolve as he ages. From the earliest entries, when William is in elementary school, to the latest entries that find him in his late teens, the character’s voice is clear, funny, observant, and unflinchingly honest. Early on, his perceptions of people he deems “gypsies” and “hillbillies” are filtered through his limited experiences as a child. As he ages, those perceptions gather gravity and depth—particularly in relation to the parents he’s lost and the uncle he becomes separated from.

When the novel ends—a moment that comes far too soon and at exactly at the right time—William returns to a semblance of safety that for most of us wouldn’t seem terribly safe at all. But, for a young man who has braved a solo river trip on a raft made of barrels, spent time in a shack with a rum runner called River Jim, and shared a fleeting encounter with a tender-hearted stranger and her Chihuahua, the safety William attempts to find is the perfect resolution for A Key to Treehouse Living.

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Author Elliot Reed
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Tin House Books
Publish Date 2019-09-17
ISBN 9781947793590
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue January 2020
Category Popular Fiction


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