Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
This is a magical tale of love, loss, grief, healing, letting go, and moving on. The story was incredibly well written and the character development was top-notch! Even the minor characters were fully developed and had interesting and important roles in the story.
I fell in love with two characters in particular – Oriana and Olive. Oriana is simply wonderful – a bright, optimistic, and hopeful (despite the loss of her father) young girl who LOVES TO READ! I love stories that include book lovers! And then there is Olive… I want to meet Olive. Seriously. I need to find a real life Olive and get to know her. What a quirky gem she is! Olive is a pipe-smoking, elderly librarian. She is smart with a perky attitude and an amazing outlook on life and she loves her library. She is the oracle of this particular story – never necessarily telling people what to do, but pushing them in the right direction to discover the right things to do for themselves. In my opinion, the real world needs more people like Oriana and Olive and the world needs more books that emphasizes the importance of libraries. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciated that a library was revered in this book!
At its heart this is simply a book about love – having it, losing it, and perhaps finding it again. Harry Crane loses his wife in freak accident that he essentially feels is his fault – or that at least he could have prevented it by behaving differently on the day of her death. Harry goes off to the forest to lose himself in his grief but ends up meeting Oriana and her mother Amanda who live near the forest. Unbeknownst to Harry initially, Oriana’s father died on the same day his wife died. Harry ends up staying in a tree house that was built in the forest by Oriana’s dad and together the three of them – Harry, Oriana, and Amanda – start to fill the voids within themselves and each other.
This book definitely has magical fairy-tale elements to it. You will recognize Little Red Riding Hood and even the Big Bad Wolf. The story references a book called The Grum’s Ledger. The Grum learns in the story that all the riches in the world couldn’t bring him love. Oriana reads and loves The Grum’s Ledger and ultimately the book influences Oriana to convince Harry to do what she believes will help him (and her) find peace in their shared grief. The Grum’s Ledger also has a special meaning to Olive the librarian.
“To every story we bring the story of ourselves. Oriana saw in The Grum’s Ledger a way to move beyond the loss of her father, for Olive The Grum’s Ledger was a tale of love and remorse. Harry had allowed the Grum to lead him toward adventure and redemption.”
This was a beautifully written novel. The story was engaging and I loved the combination of fairy tale with reality and nature with human nature. I would recommend this book to anyone.
P.S. On a whim, I looked up the meaning of Oriana’s name on behindthename.com. After you read the book go look it up yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Published June 12, 2018 by MIRA
My rating – 5 out of 5