“There is no magic in the Samuel Swerling Park. But there is grace here. There is warmth. There is enchantment. And we are capable of inspiring magical things.”  

MY MOSTLY HAPPY LIFE: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree

MY MOSTLY HAPPY LIFE - Front Cover - Low Resolution - Enhanced Color for Web SiteSamuel Swerling had never seen a single tree until he was eighteen-years-old. The first one he saw was an elm, and he fell in love with it.

Then he fell in love with all trees.

“When I visualize Samuel Swerling,” the book’s narrator says, “it is always as he was on the day that we met:  A handsome young man with a high forehead and a prominent nose…but when I get to the left side of his chest where his beating heart should be, my memory substitutes a tiny arboretum, and I see fluttering leaves performing the task he ascribed so long ago to those beautiful elms. They are stirring his soul.”

Even before the first bomb was dropped on Pearl Harbor, Sam had already decided to use the fortune that he’d amassed as an inventor to create a park; and during his World War II years in Europe, he commissioned Alonso Hannah, his one-armed landscaper, to build the park for him.

The Samuel Swerling Park would be filled with trees trained to grow in such a way that children could easily climb them. It would be a happy place where people fell in love; painters painted pictures; pretty girls basked in the sun; and time stood still. Most of all, though, it would be a place where children could do what the park had been designed for them to do: Climb trees.

The narrator of this story is one of Sam’s climbing trees.

He thrives on human contact, and in his long and happy life, he has had few disappointments. Lately, however, he is being subjected to life-threatening injuries by City Councilman Jarvis Larchmont, whom Sam threw out of the park when he was a bullying twelve-year-old boy.

After a hurricane floods the area, Sam Swerling’s family rushes to provide shelter to terrified residents. Meanwhile, Jarvis, now a cynical and arrogant politician, has been put in charge of all the city’s recreational facilities. In joining forces with Eco-terrorists, Jarvis sees an opportunity to destroy Sam’s creation and to take his revenge.

Suddenly, our narrator and his fellow climbing trees are in peril. They are separated from all that they know and love. Separated from children.

Readers will be enchanted by Ruth McGraw’s inspired illustrations, and will thrill at time spent in Samuel Swerling’s enchanted gardens, where trees fall in love, eavesdrop on conversations, muse about human nature, and inspire four generations of Swerlings to fight City Hall…and not to stop until the impossible has been done.


Praise for Shelly Reuben

The Characters…are so combustible that you keep expecting them to go up in flames.  New York Times Book Review

“I couldn’t put the book down … when the last chapter was finished, I wanted more and that’s the kind of feeling one should always have after reading a good book … This book will touch your soul and cause you to think.”  Bronx Times Reporter

An adroit storyteller with a gift for creating quirky and compelling characters.  The San Diego Union-Tribune.

A triumphant series debut whose grim subject matter is overshadowed by its life-affirming heroine.  Booklist Magazine