Cozy Spotlight on My Mostly Happy Life by Shelly Reuben

One of the reasons I started blogging is to spread the word about authors who deserve some love.  I am so happy to be hosting another one of these lovely souls today.  Say hi to Shelly Reuben author of My Mostly Happy Life, an illustrated book.

Read on to find out more about her book and to view some of the charming illustrations in her book.  I haven’t had the time to read this as yet but I hope I get to it soon.

MY MOSTLY HAPPY LIFE - Front Cover Low Resolution

Samuel Swerling, a World War II veteran and inventor, decided to build a park that would be filled with climbing trees. People fall in love at the Samuel Swerling Park. Painters paint pictures; pretty girls bask in the sun; and time stands still.

Most of all, though, children do what the park had been built for them to do:  They climb trees.

The narrator of this book 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 Jarvis Larchmont, a politician who was thrown out of the park for bullying when he was a boy.

When a hurricane floods the area, Sam Swerling’s family provides shelter to those seeking refuge in the park. At the same time, Jarvis Larchmont is put in charge of all the city’s recreational facilities, and joins forces with eco-terrorists to destroy Sam’s creation.

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

They cry…and they begin to die.

But the Swerling family organizes.

And they fight back.


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Excerpt from Chapter 24

When the Lights Come on Again


Ghita tossed her dish towel on the kitchen counter, briefly closed her eyes, and sighed. Esther’s eyes followed the towel’s trajectory, saw a portable radio on the counter where it had fallen, and impulsively turned it on.

“What channel do you usually listen to?” she asked her grandmother.

“The one that plays oldies. Songs from when I was a girl.”

Esther fiddled with the dial. A familiar melody filled the room. She put one hand on her grandmother’s shoulder, the other around her waist, swiveled her around, and began to waltz the older woman around the room.

At age seventy-four, Ghita was slim, erect, and stylish. Her once black hair, now luminously silver, was like a nimbus of spun glass. It framed her head in loose curls, giving softness to an essentially angular face. The skin around her eyes and mouth had a delicate tracery of creases, but a perfection of bone structure dominated her face.

As a young woman, Ghita had been stunning. As an older woman, she was beautiful.

She laughed as Esther led her in a graceless ballet between the sink and the hall door, around the kitchen table and back again to the door.

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 9.47.15 PM

Two minutes later, Ghita stopped and pushed her granddaughter away. “Enough,” she said.

And then asked, “Coffee, darling?”

“I’d love a cup, Grandma. But let me get it for you.”

Ghita nodded gratefully, pulled out a chair, and wearily sank into it.

Esther busied herself with coffee, milk, sugar, and two cups. She put one in front of Ghita and the other in front of an opposite chair. She sat.

“Grandma,” she asked pensively, “What was it like during the war?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean what was it like here at home?  What was it like waiting for Grandpa?”

Ghita stared at her granddaughter, an expression of gentle incredulity on her face. After a long moment, she raised an eyebrow and smiled.

“Darling, when the war ended, I was only ten years old. Your grandfather and I didn’t meet until a decade later. He was twenty-four years older than I.”



“So you don’t remember the war?”

“I didn’t say that. I remember it perfectly. Your great grandfather—myfather—was overseas, and my mother worked in the garment district, making uniforms for soldiers.”

“How long was your father gone?”

“The whole time. Until after Japan surrendered.”

“Did you miss him?”

“That’s a silly question. Of course I missed him. We both did, terribly. And we never stopped worrying about him.”

“So how did you get through it all?”

“Through what?”

“The fear. The worrying. The wondering.”

“Why are you asking, dear?”

Esther stood and walked to the open window. Her slim, proud shoulders slumped with fatigue, and her graceful body sagged against the window frame. It had stopped raining and the air felt heavy and wet. She looked outside. All that could be seen in the blacked out city were phantom silhouettes. Water covered every sidewalk and street. Water sloshed against the rocky perimeter of the park and huddled against exterior walls of apartment buildings. Cars had been overturned by the onrush of the tide, tree branches floated amid debris, and off in the distance, a man rowed a canoe around a corner and out of sight.

She turned away from the window and answered her grandmother’s question.

“All day, Grandma, I’ve been remembering Grandpa’s stories about World War II. How people suffered and what they endured. And all day, I’ve been thinking about what people are suffering now. This very instant. After this terrible storm. They’re cold and hungry. Scared and confused. They don’t know what to expect or what to do. Some can try to go home, but what if their homes are gone? What if they were swept away in the flood? What if their parents or children or lovers are gone? They must be asking themselves if they’ll still have a family tomorrow, still have a home, still have a job. Maybe they’re wondering if there will even be a tomorrow.”

Esther returned to the table and grabbed Ghita’s hands.

“I know that what we’re experiencing today is small potatoes compared to what Grandpa went through, and I know that today is just one day out of thousands in our lives. But it was a terrible, terrible day, so I was wondering…”

What Esther was wondering drifted into a haze of conjecture, and her sentence hung unfinished in the air.

For ten seconds, Ghita said nothing. She stared at the ceiling, thinking, recollecting, and thinking some more. Then a few chords from a piano filtered into to her consciousness. She stood, walked to the radio, reached for the volume control knob, and turned it up.

“Grandma?”  Esther asked, puzzled.

Ghita returned to the table, her lips curved into the barest hint of a smile, and her eyes focused on a faraway memory.

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 9.48.43 PM.png

“You asked how we got through the war, darling,” she said.

Lyrics and melody streamed from the radio speakers, glanced off the walls, floor, and ceiling, and made a soft landing in Ghita Swerling’s heart.

“Music, Esther. Music. That’s how we got through the war.”



Chapter 6 - Pal with Match in his BeakChapter 12 - Franklin & Genevieve Kissing in TreeChapter 27 - Timothy Wong photographing Jarvis Larchmont in ParkChapter 29 - Do Not Climb or Touch Trees


Author Bio

SHELLY REUBEN - Author Photo - February 2018

Shelly Reuben’s books encompass various genres. Her crime novels have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon Awards.  Her adult fable, The Man with the Glass Heart, was a Freedom Book Club selection. Her fiction has been published by Scriber, Harper, Harcourt, Dodd, Mead & Co., and Blackstone Audio Books. She writes two newspaper columns, and her books have been serialized in Huntington Newsand The Evening Sun.


22 thoughts on “Cozy Spotlight on My Mostly Happy Life by Shelly Reuben

Add yours

      1. I love the illustrations too! I was checking it out on Amazon and like the way all the characters are introduced. Thinking about buying it. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  1. “Hello Shelley!” (you told me to say hello, Nina!
    This book sounds intense for the story of a climbing tree! It kind of reminds me of the story of “the proud tree” I’ll definitely have to check it out just because it sounds so unique!! I love the idea and the illustrations look great! 💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

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