When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. "If you're going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence," Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room - like she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away.
Annie tells stories, too, as she and Rew laze under the birches and oaks of Zebra Forest - stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same. Driven by suspense and psychological intrigue, Zebra Forest deftly portrays an unfolding standoff of truth against family secrets - and offers an affecting look at two resourceful, imaginative kids as they react and adapt to the hand they've been dealt.
From Zebra Forest: We called it the Zebra Forest because it looked like a zebra. Its trees were a mix of white birch and chocolate oak, and if you stood a little ways from it, like at our house looking across the back field that was our yard, you saw stripes, black and white, that went up into green. Gran never went out there except near dusk, when the shadows gathered. She didn't like to be out in full sunlight usually, and told me once she didn't like the lines the trees made. Gran was always saying stuff like that. Perfectly beautiful things - like a clean blue sky over the Zebra - made tears come to her eyes, and if I tried to get her to come outside with me, she'd duck her head and hurry upstairs to bed. But then it would be storming, lightning sizzling the tops of the trees, and she'd run round the house, cheerful, making us hot cocoa and frying up pancakes and warming us with old quilts. We had few rules in our house, but keeping out of the Zebra Forest in a storm was one of them.
Zebra Forest is not a page-turner, the reader is meant to savor it slowly. With economical and precise strokes Gerwitz invokes the breadth of the lives of her characters, which extend far into the past and even into the future. I sat with each and every page of the novel, and absorbed every word. (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Clever plot twists, lyrical writing and empathetic characters make this book a must-not-miss.
The tight narrative—laden with symbolism, such as a copy of Treasure Island missing half of its pages, a backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis, and the forest itself—is held together with the strength of the characters. This slight, tense debut novel will interest children looking for suspense or family drama.
Gewirtz’s emotionally intense debut novel about the complications of families offers a perceptive heroine and poetic, impressive prose.
The Horn Book
Ambivalence is what makes Gewirtz’s story so compelling.
Starred Review. Debut author Gewirtz successfully conveys the terror and tedium of being trapped...An emotionally honest family story with an ending that’s hopeful without being implausibly upbeat.
School Library Journal
Starred Review. Gewirtz veers away from melodrama, deftly capturing nuances of family dynamics in spare prose. ... [A]udiences will appreciate this novel’s multilayered characters and touching message of hope and forgiveness.
In Zebra Forest, Annie and Rew love the book Treasure Island. Rich with symbols, the story allows the kids to create their own adventures in the woods behind their home.
Writer and critic Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote of Robert Louis Stevenson in his 1902 publication Twelve Types: A Collection of Mini-Biographies:
"... he had to make one story as rich as a ruby sunset, another as grey as a hoary monolith: for the story was the soul, or rather the meaning, of the bodily vision. It is quite inappropriate to judge 'The Teller of Tales' (as the Samoans called him) by the particular novels he wrote…These novels were only the two or three of his soul's adventures that he happened to tell. But he died with a thousand stories in his heart."
Treasure Island was one of those "particular novels." While Stevenson may have written many more novels before dying from tuberculosis complications at the young age of 44, Treasure Island was a pivotal one. It became the iconic pirate story, and...
When two boys come to spend the summer at Bird Lake, each is reeling from his own personal tragedy. Both boys arrive scarred and fragile, but as they become friends, the sharp edges of their lives smooth out and, slowly, they are able to start to heal.
Oldest romance writer in the world dies aged 105. Books #124 and #125 to be published next year(Dec 10 2013) Ida Pollock, author of more than 120 books, and believed to be the world's oldest romantic novelist, has died at the age of 105.