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William Tyce is a boy without parents, left under the care of an eccentric, absent uncle. To impose order on the sudden chaos of his life, he crafts a glossary-style list, through which he imparts his particular wisdom and thoughts 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.

”Crisp and lyrical, emotionally assured, delightfully inventive – Reed has made a marvelous debut.” —Kirkus

”Inventive, illuminating… Reed offers an impressionistic and profound exploration of self and consciousness.” —Publisher’s Weekly

”Subtle suspense … unexpected humour … fascinating.” —Star Tribune

”Best to just enjoy the ride … And what a ride it is. A treatise on philosophy, nihilism, science, nature, physics, kinetics, shamans, ghosts, gambling, photography … Ultimately, the book is about the journey of a vulnerable young man, searching for home, for family, for connection.” —New York Journal of Books

”Terrific, funny, poignant and just weird enough … I ate it up.” —Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins