Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Into The Forest

Our latest book for our book group was a rather strange read. It was "Into The Forest" by Jean Hegland. Written in 1996 it is a book that looks at what might happen if the world collapsed.

The story is set around two sisters Eva and Nell who live in the forest in Northern California. The story is told by the younger sister, Nell who loves to read and learn and is looking forward to escaping from California and attending Harvard. Eva wants to become a ballet dancer and is gearing up for a big audition in San Fransisco.

As we learn about the family, suddenly, and unexpectedly something happens. We never know what it is that happens, other than it has caused a total collapse of the infrastructure of the country. Was it war, economic collapse . . . we have no idea, and no one seems to interested in finding out. (That part really bothered me).

The mother has died of cancer, and now the girls and the father are forced to deal with living in the forest and surviving. All kinds of challenges ensue. As the girls have to deal with the death of their father and a stranger that changes their lives forever.

There were a couple of places where the book left plausibility. The relationship between Nell and Eli just never worked. Neither did the family's last trip into town. The visit to the warehouse store was ridiculous. And the ending left you scratching your head.

In a study guide to the book it makes the comment that:
Reading Into the Forest will forever change the way you think about a teabag, a scrap of paper, a metronome, an acorn, or a chocolate kiss candy. It will forever change your thinking about dreams and days of the week.

I must not have read the same book, because after I write this and turn it back into the library, I doubt I will ever think of the book again. It did not connect with me, or really any of us in the book group.

That is not to say that it was a bad book. It was an interesting and enjoyable read and does make you think about what the world would be like if there was a catastrophic collapse. But because I live in an urban jungle and not a California Redwood forest, it did not speak to me like it might others.


Anonymous said...

Just thought you'd like to know....
This was the "adult" book used in the Books to Bridge the Region activity sponsored by various NWI public libraries and the Purdue Calumet library.
This campaign is designed to foster reading in schools and homes by children and adults. The committee chooses a book for young children (opportunities for parent/child interaction), middle schoolers, and adults.
Surveys of participants at the end of the activity were mixed, though.

Steve Conger said...

My hunch is women liked it a great deal better than men.

Anonymous said...

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler changed the way I think about what might happen when the world changes (rather than ends). I would read it again. I think about it often.
Another really good book somewhat along the same lines is Blindness by Jose Saramago. I would recommend both.


Steve Conger said...

Thanks Joette, I will recomend them to our book group.