** This review is done in conjunction with SayWhatSavannahMae. Check out her website for promotional packages, tours and other amazing publicity **
The Trees is an epic novel told in Godfather fashion about a handful of childhood friends who make it out of the slums of Brooklyn and reunite as young adults during the years of mob-controlled Las Vegas. Lawrence “Mongoose” Cohen starts running numbers for local bosses while in high school, and eventually manages the gambling activities at the Desert Winds Hotel and Casino in Vegas. There he reunites with EuniceÑa teenage heartthrobÑwho’s now a showgirl known as “Venus.” She initially ignores him but softens after he’s almost killed in a car bombing. Haunted by Venus’s former involvement with underboss Tommy Di Meglio, Mongoose deals with Tommy, “makes his bones” against his would-be assassin, and becomes a “made man” as Las Vegas transforms into a legitimate entertainment mecca ready to do business with Macao in the new millennium.
The Trees is one of those books you just need to read to experience. Try as I might, I just can’t do it justice is a review. But I highly recommend it.
Each character is detailed and realistic, and it makes you wonder how much of this novel is based in fact (luckily you don’t have to wonder too hard, he gives us some info in the back). The characters are so likeable, that despite what happens in the scenes you really come to love these characters. The late 40s when the characters were growing up was such an interesting time. The mafia, the dialogue, the character of people was so different and so alive. The book is described to be told in “Godfather” style and they are so right. You can feel that same tone here, but even more so. The book allows us so much more than a movie or a TV show ever could.
The language in the book was shocking, but not in a bad way, but in a way reminding us how different the world was, how many things were tolerated and commonplace. This book chronicles a changing society through the eyes of a changing group of Friends. Mo, Mongoose, Scumbag, Potcheese, Ringo and Eunice are such vibrant character, all searching, growing, and taking a stand. The brash impatience of youth to their later life, their careers, and all the while we watch these friendships grow and progress and strain to remain together despite the choices they make as individuals. This book is perfectly crafted, giving us the perfect sense of New York in the late 40s, and the development of the society as well as this group of friends.
The choices they make are so strong, and reflect so strongly in the the way the writer crafted each character. His build up to the dramatic points makes each one hurt a little bit more. We care for these friends, we care about the choices they make, and when they are all caught up in the mafia in one way or another we worry for them. The author takes us on an emotion, dramatic journey in this book, not without the humor and wit, and we love it. It’s an amazing read and the only thing better then the read? The “To Be Continued” at the end of the book! We are going to be able to see more of this story. Thank goodness!
** I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own **