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Into the Forest Hardcover – September 2, 1997
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Jean Hegland's prose in Into the Forest is as breathtaking as one of the musty, ancient redwoods that share the woodland with Nell and Eva, two sisters who must learn to live in harmony with the northern California forest when the electricity shuts off, the phones go out, their parents die, and all civilization beyond them seems to grind to a halt. At first, the girls rely on stores of food left in their parents' pantry, but when those supplies begin to dwindle, their only option is to turn to each other and the forest's plants and animals for friendship, courage, and sustenance. Into the Forest, an apocalyptic coming-of-age story, will fill readers (both teens and adults) with a profound sense of the human spirit's strength and beauty.
From Publishers Weekly
Hegland's powerfully imagined first novel will make readers thankful for telephones and CD players while it underscores the vulnerability of lives dependent on technology. The tale is set in the near future: electricity has failed, mail delivery has stopped and looting and violence have destroyed civil order. In Northern California, 32 miles from the closest town, two orphaned teenage sisters ration a dwindling supply of tea bags and infested cornmeal. They remember their mother's warnings about the nearby forest, but as the crisis deepens, bears and wild pigs start to seem less dangerous than humans. From the first page, the sense of crisis and the lucid, honest voice of the 17-year-old narrator pull the reader in, and the fight for survival adds an urgent edge to her coming-of-age story. Flashbacks smartly create a portrait of the lost family: an iconoclastic father, artistic mother and two independent daughters. The plot draws readers along at the same time that the details and vivid writing encourage rereading. Eating a hot dog starts with "the pillowy give of the bun," and the winter rains are "great silver needles stitching the dull sky to the sodden earth." If sometimes the lyricism goes a little too far, this is still a truly admirable addition to a genre defined by the very high standards of George Orwell's 1984 and Russell Hoban's Ridley Walker.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Jean Hegland paints a dystopian landscape that is painfully close to reality. She creates a strong foundation and builds out the rooms of this story, brick by brick. Her use of language is reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver's, yet distinctly her own creation.
Relationships are tested, twisted and nearly broken apart, only to heal and become stronger. At its core, it is a story about the love the grows out of the hearts and minds of one family, embodied most clearly in the relationship between the two sisters, Nell, and Eva. They live with their father and free-spirited mother on an isolated farm in a fictionalized location the redwoods of Northern California.
I reveled in the details and patience with which she painted this world. A strong connection to nature permeates the story. The rhythm of her language flows like a strong clear stream. She deftly amplifies the emotional landscape within Nell and Eva contrasting it with their external reality, seasonal transformations that offered bounty and danger in equal measure.
These are unique, smart, quirky people. Each has gifts and blind spots. Through it all, they are enmeshed with each other like the roots of the forest trees and plants that surround them.
It is a coming of age tale of survival. The principal characters are far from perfect. They stumble as they learn how to exist in a world where nothing comes easily except for being true to their innermost selves.
I ached with pain as I read each new struggle. I laughed and wept as the two typical teenage girls discover boys and who they are meant to be. Their lives are turned inside out and yet they find a way to do more than simply exist. These girls are resourceful at times, frightened, and always real.
I could imagine myself in their world where technology and civilization as we know it disintegrates.
It is a well-told tale and left me wanting more.
This book was my introduction to dystopian literature. The story is excellent as described by many other reviewers here. It is well written, evolves with the young women and the unfolding crisis of a world gone off the grid without explanation; no power, no news, no telephone service or gasoline as gradually local sources of information, law enforcement and supply dry up.
How do two intelligent young women create a strategy for self-protection and survival? These characters are about as real as fiction can make them.
The outcomes of the failure of the rules of civilized community that make us feel secure are realistic and sometimes heartbreaking. But somehow, at the end, you believe these girls, now forced to become women, will find ways, not just to survive, but to thrive and build a future worth living. I had always wished for a sequel because my hopes for them were so high.
If you are new to dystopian literature, start with this novel. It is not overwritten, overwrought with emotion or filled with silly suppositions. The writer has made "practical necessity" a thrilling and maturing adventure that will stick with you emotionally and intellectually for years to come.
I have just purchased my second copy of this book. I passed on my first copy to friends before leaving California. Now I want a copy to keep.
HOWEVER, there were a few times that this book went off the rails and in the end, it was ruined for me.
There was a random instance of incest for what appeared to be no reason and came out of nowhere and is then literally dropped like a hot potato two sentences later. The two sisters have sex and then the basically the next sentence is "and then we never touched eachother again". What was the point of that? It was gross and also didn't really add anything to the plot.
Then at the end of the book they abandon their house to go live in the woods.....what???? how is not having shelter better than living in a house with a garden. And then the scene with the bear?? The very end of this book sort of took a peyote style trip into nonsense-land. Blech