Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz is a middle-grade novel set is small-town America during the Iranian hostage crisis.

Annie and her brother Rew live with their gran outside of town, near a forest of birch and oak trees that they call the zebra forest. Both of their parents are gone -- their mother left them when Annie was three years old, and their father is dead, killed in a fight with an angry man, as their gran has told them. One summer day, a man runs out of the forest and into their house. He says he will not hurt anyone as long as they do what he says. The man is an escaped convict from the nearby prison, and Annie and her family are suddenly hostages in their own home. Even more shocking is the realization that Gran knows the man: he is Annie and Rew's father, the angry man, not the man who was killed. Rew is furious with everyone, Gran descends into a deep, silent depression, but Annie can't help being a little curious. After all, she's spent her whole life wondering what her father was like.

This book does an excellent job of creating and sustaining mood and tension. Setting it during the Iranian hostage crisis worked thematically, though it was not necessary to the story other than that. I felt the characterization was a little uneven and the plot relied too much on a few big coincidences, but for a first novel, I found the book as a whole impressive.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

No comments:

Post a Comment