Into the Forest

Into the Forest

Book - 1997
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Once in a generation we open a new book to discover a voice and a vision that have the power to change the way we look at ourselves and our world.  These are the novels we read, remember, and return to again and again: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, and now, from Jean Hegland, an extraordinary fiction debut...Into the Forest. Eva, eighteen, and Nell, seventeen, are sisters, adolescents on the threshold of womanhood--and for them anything should be possible.  But even as Eva prepares for an audition with the San Francisco Ballet and Nell dreams of her first semester at Harvard, their lives are turned upside down and their dreams are pushed into the shadows.  In a nation suddenly without electricity or communications, Eva is compelled to dance alone to the music of memory, and Nell's education consists of reading the encyclopedia, devouring knowledge as if it were her last meal.  Theirs is an age of darkness and terror.... A distant war rages overseas.  Resources society had depended on, such as gas and electricity, are no longer available.  Riots spread through the inner cities, while deadly viral infections spread across the countryside.  Isolated in their home in the northern California woods, Eva and Nell live in a world without television or phones, in a time of suspicion and superstition, of anger, hunger, and fear.  Perhaps one day the lights--and their dreams--will return, but orphaned by their parents' deaths and by society, Eva and Nell have been left to forage through the forest, and through their past, for the keys to survival.  As they blaze a path into the forest and into the future, they become pioneers and pilgrims--not only creatures of the new world, but the creators of it. Into the Forest is the gripping, unforgettable story of these remarkable sisters as they struggle to redefine themselves and their life together.  It is a passionate and poignant tale of stirring sensuality, chilling insight, and profound inspiration--a novel that will move you and surprise you and touch you to the core.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Bantam Books, 1997.
ISBN: 9780553106688
0553106686
9780553379617
0553379615
Branch Call Number: FIC Hegla
Characteristics: 241 pages ; 24 cm

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I watched this movie before reading the book. I thought the book might go into more detail about the circumstances surrounding the apocalyptic illnesses, etc. which cause these two sisters to become isolated in the Pacific Northwest. I thought there might be more insight into the sisters' decision to distance themselves even further from the remnants of modern society by making their home in a tree stump and living off roots and berries.
Did I gather anything more from the book? Did the story become more complete? Plausable? Fulfilling? NO!!!
Let me just start by saying that the book is written in the first person, in what is supposed to be journal entries. Sadly, the author's voice takes over beginning on page one. In fact, the whole book reads like a bunch of simplistic, cliche exercises one learned in a first-year university fiction writing class. The most glaring irritation in this book (which THANKFULLY the movie skipped over) was the sisters' passionate, incestuous incident which happens soon after one of the sisters is raped. I was wondering why the author was describing a massage session between the sisters for 2+ pages. I even began to skip paragraphs when all of a sudden they go all the way?! Where did that come from? Does the author believe incest to be the cure for trauma and rape? Sheesh!
There is a vaguely compelling and interesting plot here but it was ruined by the author (sorry). Also, (since this book was written in the 90's) if I have to read the words 'CD player' one more time I think I might explode.
Recommendation: SKIP this disturbing, unrealistic, sophomoric piece of trash.

p
Pisinga
Aug 16, 2016

Beautiful lyrical novel. Sometimes, while reading, the tears welling into eyes.
I did not really like some moments. I understand the author's purpose in those moments – to show sensuality, but it is, in my opinion, goes beyond of defined borders. Not wanting to put a spoiler - I will not talk about an episode in question.
The second half of the book is full of botany, anatomy, and physiology. It seems
this was the author's purpose - to show that we all come from the nature and we are all going back to her.
Shown the dependence of modern society to live on everything ready for consumerism: on pre packed, pre cooked, pre paid etc.
The ending I didn't like much: It seems that in order to start all over again, you need to destroy all past, all the knowledge accumulated for millennia, everything built with zeal.
If I am not mistaken, the first time the book was published in 1996. On the page 16 of this edition there is such phrase: "We heard the United States had a new president, and the she was arranging ..." "She" -? Curiously - prediction for present times?
There is a movie based on this book. I didn’t see it and I am not going to judge it. But I saw the trailer - and the house that is depicted in it - absolutely not what I imagine while reading. And the image of "house” plays an important role in this book.

m
mclarjh
Apr 26, 2016

One of the worst novels I have ever read. A poster child for the post-revolution back-to-the-woods movement. Sappy, sentimental, and suitable for preteen girls.

s
stephaniedchase
Mar 14, 2015

You might pick up this book thinking it is a post-apocalyptic novel about two sisters living in the woods following the collapse of society and how they survive -- but, surely, viewed that way, you will be disappointed. Instead, this book is really a mediation on loneliness, what survival means, self-sufficiency, and what from modern society we would take, if we could, while discarding the rest. You may not agree with the choices Nell and Eva make, but you will certainly think about how you might be prepared if everything you felt was important was lost in an instant.

m
miaone
Jul 15, 2014

I love this book and re-read it every couple of years. What pulls me in is the believability of it; when I was reading it the first time it was just a few months after 9/11, and I was in northern California, near the forests. Also, there was electricity failure in rolling blackouts caused by bad management of Pacific Gas & Electric. The two events, with their ongoing results, made for an emotionally realistic background for absorbing Hegland's story. As the girls' situation becomes increasingly dangerous and desperate, still there are small and large causes for one or the other of them to feel joy. But the reader can feel the center breaking ever farther and can't help but ask herself, "How would I cope in a similar circumstance?"

t
tkwarner
Jul 18, 2011

What they really needed was man around the house. Poorly written about 2 sisters who could barely eke out a living. Had a hard time completing this story.

s
sharon711
Sep 20, 2010

Nell never knew just how much she consumed, until one day the lights went out in California. “Nothing lasts forever,” her sister Eva notes. As things turn from bad to worse, it’s only a can of gas that keeps Eva going. It reminds her of another way of life, which perhaps someday they can return to.

Now, only the forest offers the girls what they need. It teaches them how to live as people did for 100,000 years before Edison invented the lightbulb. Who needs a man, anyway?

You never know when a book might be your last. Enjoy this one by coal lamp!

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eplkaitlyn
Jan 06, 2018

eplkaitlyn thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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