Thursday, February 28, 2013

Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest
Adina Rishe Gewirtz
Candlewick, 2013
$15.99, Hardcover

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 10+
Description: Eleven-year-old Annie lives with her younger brother, Rew, and their grandmother. For the past few years, Annie’s grandma has alternated between being very happy and talkative and brooding for days in her room. They don’t know where their mother wandered off to (she never wanted kids and has no desire to stick around) and they’ve grown up fantasizing stories under the trees of the zebra forest outside their house about their father who, according to grandma, was killed in a fight with an angry man who was then sent away. They are completely unprepared for the shocking events that occur next—a large jail break at the prison on the other side of the forest leads the family to being held hostage by one of the escapees who just happens to be Annie and Rew’s supposedly dead father.
Opinion: This is a unique novel. It is a short read but it is not an easy one. Poor Annie and Rew idolize their dead father so when he shows up and it is revealed that he was the “angry man” in their grandma’s stories, they don’t know how to deal with it. Gran goes into a complete catatonic state. Rew doesn’t want anything to do with his liar of a father and spends most of the time really pissed off. Annie tries to piece everything together and is torn between supporting her family (such as when she’s allowed to go shopping and Rew wants her to drop a letter to the police about them being held hostage and she decides not to) and wanting to know the father she thought was dead for so many years. This is an excellent story for readers who like gritty and somewhat sad real-life stories, especially about family secrets. One note—it appears that the story takes place in a small town during 1979 to 1981 when the Iranian hostage conflict was occurring since Annie watches the news unfold on TV and in newspapers and likens her situation to the other hostages. Unfortunately, most teens will not understand this reference probably and wonder what the heck the author is talking about (since, sadly, history is not a favorite subject among teens).

*Thanks to Andie Krawczyk at Candlewick for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

No comments:

Post a Comment