Today I have a review of A Key to Treehouse Living by Elliot Reed for my stop on the blog tour. Many thanks to Nikki at Melville House for my spot on the tour and review copy of the book.
A Key to Treehouse Living is the adventure of William Tyce, a boy without parents, who grows up near a river in the rural Midwest. In a glossary-style list, he imparts his particular wisdom on subjects ranging from ASPHALT PATHS, BETTA FISH, and MULLET to MORTAL BETRAYAL, NIHILISM, and REVELATION. His improbable quest – to create a reference volume specific to his existence – takes him on a journey down the river by raft (see MYSTICAL VISION, see NAVIGATING BIG RIVERS BY NIGHT). He seeks to discover how his mother died (see ABSENCE) and find reasons for his father’s disappearance (see UNCERTAINTY, see VANITY). But as he goes about defining his changing world, all kinds of extraordinary and wonderful things happen to him. Unlocking an earnest, clear-eyed way of thinking that might change your own, A Key to Treehouse Living is a story about keeping your own record straight and living life by a different code.
I’m not going to deny that I worried when I finished A Key to Treehouse Living as I knew that it was probably going to be the one of the toughest reviews I’ve ever had to write! Not because I didn’t like the book (because I adored it from start to finish!) but because it’s unlike anything I have ever read before and I want to convey my love of this very different book without putting you off due to its unique format in storytelling! It’s a very clever narrative that tells a story without actually, well, telling a story! And it’s incredibly difficult to explain how that works but it does!
William Tyce is the voice that sucks us into this extraordinary debut novel. He seeks structure and understanding of the world he inhabits after the death of his mother and the absence of a father as he goes to live with his uncle. The story is told in a series of snapshots in his alphabetically ordered “key” where he explains his story by sharing his thoughts and experiences on those particular headings. Some are short, some show a very dry sense of humour and others impact far more than expected as he struggles to make sense of his life as he travels the river that meanders through his tale.
This book, as I’ve said before, is unlike anything else I’ve read. Elliot Reed gives his character a unique voice, one that I responded to with smiles, laughs and sadness whilst all the while trying to make sense of the important and life affirming moments in Williams life and what their outcomes meant for him. It’s certainly not a book you will forget in a hurry!
A Key to Treehouse Living is a uniquely crafted and beautifully written novel with a character that you will take to your heart. A stunningly self assured debut novel.