“Secretly famous. Which is the best kind of famous, believe me.”
A chance meeting on a playground leaves Tomasina (“Tommy”) and her brother forever connected to a famous children’s author. The brother is captured in a book that makes author Mort Lear famous. Tommy is offered her first job by Mort Lear – be his personal assistant. When Mort dies, both Tommy and her brother must decide if they’ll let the author continue to overshadow their lives.
I saw A House Among the Trees reviewed in Bookpages and put it on my to-read list. I put it on hold at the library as an ebook and it took a while for it to come up as available. The storyline looked interesting and the author has won a National Book Award, although I have not read any of her other books.
While I found the story interesting, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I have other fiction stories that aren’t full of drama. I don’t think it was the writing so much as the characters. I didn’t like how Tommy gave up her life completely to be a personal assistant. She had no life of her own. It seems like she felt she owned the author something, but didn’t know how to know when the debt was paid back. When he died, her world was still consumed by his wishes and I was rooting for her to get out from his selfish shadow and make her own mark. Thankfully, her brother finally shows her some perspective with the quote at the top of this page. He knew he was the basis for the author’s famous work, but didn’t let it consume his life.
This book is a deep read, although it would be great for a book club. It’s for adults as the author has a relationship with another man who dies of HIV. It is well-written, it’s just hard to see the characters not use life to the full potential. But, maybe that is the point of the story.
Have you read A House Among the Trees? What did you think? Comment below!