An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013
: Eleven-year-old Annie and her younger brother, Rew, have long wondered what their father was like. All they know is what Gran told them--that he died in a fight--but Gran is an unreliable narrator at best. Life was already unraveling when a sudden turn of events shatters what little stability remained and relationships are questioned, lies exposed, and both children suddenly have to grow up even more than they already have. Zebra Forest
is a slim, suspense-filled novel that speaks volumes about family stories riddled with secrets, betrayal in the name of love, and finding forgiveness.--Seira Wilson
From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-It's almost summer and 11-year-old Annie Morgan has a small list of things she hopes to accomplish during her vacation: grow tall, have an adventure, and meet her father. Sadly, the last wish is impossible given her father's death in a brutal fight many years before. Annie and her younger brother, Rew, live with their caring, but mentally unstable, grandmother in the backwoods of Sunshine. The siblings pass the time in the "Zebra Forest" of birches and oaks behind their house, weaving elaborate fantasies of their dad as a pirate or secret agent. When a prison escapee barges into their house and holds them hostage, the siblings are shocked to discover that the interloper is their presumed-dead father, Andrew Snow. Gran's fragile state renders her incapable of helping the children process this revelation. Rew lashes out against his captor, refusing to believe that this man is his dad. Annie is torn between siding with her brother and her desire to know their father. Gewirtz veers away from melodrama, deftly capturing nuances of family dynamics in spare prose. Another notable element is the thematic parallel with Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, which the children read throughout the story. Despite Zebra Forest's slow start, audiences will appreciate this novel's multilayered characters and touching message of hope and forgiveness.-Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.