The Lion Trees: Part One: Unraveling, Part 1

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Otf Literary, Aug 13, 2014 - Dysfunctional families - 826 pages
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What if survival required you to unlearn who you are? How far would you fall to save yourself? Sometimes happiness is a long way down.

The Johns family is unraveling. Hollis, a retired Ohio banker, isolates himself in esoteric hobbies and a dangerous flirtation with a colleague's daughter. Susan, his wife of forty years, risks everything for a second chance at who she might have become. David, their eldest, thrashes to stay afloat as his teaching career capsizes in a storm of accusations involving a missing student and the legacy of Christopher Columbus. And young Tilly, the black sheep, having traded literary promise for an improbable career as a Hollywood starlet, struggles to define herself amid salacious scandal, the demands of a powerful director, and the judgments of an uncompromising writer.

By turns comical and poignant, the Johns family is tumbling toward the discovery that sometimes you have to let go of your identity to find out who you are.

[A] cerebral page turner...a powerful and promising debut.-Kirkus Reviews

[Five Stars]...[A] powerful, gripping and realistic story...The Lion Trees does what so very few great novels can: it will take a lot out of you, but leave you with much more than you had when you began -Pacific Book Reviews, a five star review.

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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Lion Trees is a powerful and unique work of fiction by author Owen Thomas. Taking the slice of life multi-perspective approach to its literary maxim
, the plot follows four key members of the Johns family through their past, present, and the potential of their future. Patriarch Hollis struggles with retired life, filling his time with temptations and frivolous hobbies, whilst his wife Susan dreams of the life she might have had if she had never consented to a forty-year marriage. Down the generations, rising starlet Tilly struggles with the dark realities of getting what she wants from directors and writers, whilst her brother David, a teacher, deals with a scandal of his own at school. So begins one family’s journey to discover the limits they must push themselves to in order to be truly happy, and face the question of whether that happiness is even possible.
This is the sort of novel which a light fiction reader might put down after the first dozen pages, and I’m here to implore that you don’t. Once you get used to the time-hopping, perspective-switching style of Owen Thomas’ deep and beautiful prose, the story of the Johns family flutters like a paper bag in the breeze that you can’t stop watching. Unpredictable, philosophical and deeply, intrinsically human, The Lion Trees explores a lengthy gamut of powerful emotional depths, asking important questions about life which we readers, like the Johns family, so often forget to stop and ponder. A superb and high quality literary drama.

About the author (2014)

Owen Thomas, a lifelong Alaskan with an abiding love of original fiction, is a product of the Anchorage School District and a graduate of Duke University and Duke Law School. While managing an employment litigation practice in Alaska, Thomas has written three novels: "Lying Under Comets: A Love Story of Passion, Murder, Snacks and Graffiti"; "The Lion Trees," winner of 13 international book awards; and a novel of interconnected short fiction entitled "Signs of Passing," winner of the 2014 Pacific Book Awards for Short Fiction. Owen maintains an active fiction and photography blog on his author website at

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