Excerpt from Our Lady of The Forest by David Guterson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Our Lady of The Forest

By David Guterson

Our Lady of The Forest
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2003,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2004,
    336 pages.

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They'd been stoned that afternoon for a half hour and were finding mushrooms here and there, giggling together in their usual manner, when they saw Ann Holmes perched on a log, watching them with her hands in her pockets and her sweatshirt hood drawn around her cheeks so that her face lay in shadow. At first they thought she was a boy of their own age, an unfamiliar boy not from their town, and even when they came close enough to see that her bucket was brimming with chanterelles, neither was certain that she wasn't a boy, though they inspected her face closely. Both were conscious of being stoned and wondered if it was observable somehow, if their behavior gave them away. They exerted themselves to act normal. Whoa, said one. You scored.

I should have brought along another bucket.

Amazing.

Ass kicking.

Have you ever noticed that bucket rhymes with fuck it?

Crystal.

Excuse me.

God, Crystal.

I'm sure. It rhymes.

God, Crystal. I'm sure.

They giggled now in a truncated manner, trying to stop themselves. They both put hands over their mouths in an effort to hold in laughter. Ann loosened her sweatshirt drawstring, pushed the hood away from her face, and ran her fingers through her hair. Her hair was short, the color of old straw, matted to her head, unkempt. The others could see now that Ann was a girl, which was not as good as a strange boy in the woods to talk about at school. Are you like from where? one asked.

I'm from the campground.

You were like born there?

They laughed again, covering their mouths. One of them nearly fell over.

You guys are baked, Ann said.

We're not baked we're totally hammered.

I'm like fried. Totally.

I'm like ripped.

Me, too.

They sat cross-legged on the forest floor. The one named Crystal pulled out a deck of cards. The other produced the bag of marijuana. Let's get baked, she suggested. Maybe a little, Ann replied.

They smoked dope, played Crazy Eights, ate a rope of red licorice, some Dots and a box of Red Hots. Ann asked if they believed in Jesus. Uh oh, said one. Are you a Jesus freak?

Excerpted from Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson Copyright© 2003 by David Guterson. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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