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Zebra Forest
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Zebra Forest
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In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves. When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her...
In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves. When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her...
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Description-

  • In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves. 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.

About the Author-

  • Adina Rishe Gewirtz has worked as a freelance journalist, a high-school tutor, and a business-writing consultant. The author of How to Say It: Business Writing That Works, Adina Gewirtz now coaches writers and spends most of her time focused on her first love, fiction writing. Zebra Forest is her first novel. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 25, 2013
    As summer vacation starts, 11-year-old Annie has the same three wishes as always: to get taller, to have an adventure, and to meet her father. She’s not holding her breath—nothing ever happens in her tiny town, and although Annie and her younger brother, Rew, spend hours spinning stories about their father, they know he’s dead. They live with their grandmother near a jail, and when an escaped prisoner holds them hostage in their house, two of Annie’s wishes come true in ways she never imagined. Debut author Gewirtz successfully conveys the terror and tedium of being trapped, as well as Annie and Rew’s pain and emotional turmoil over learning their father isn’t who they believed. While the situation may frighten some readers, the matter-of-fact way Annie and Rew make the best of difficult circumstances

  • DOGO Books memoiloveit - I rate this book as fair since I enjoy reading the details the author writes to describe everything. I can feel as if I am in the book, experiencing everything with all the characters. She makes me have reactions and predictions to the book, especially in the end of chapter 34. Chapter 34 is when Rew runs away from their house, into the “Zebra”, the forest their house is surrounded in. Annie, her grandmother, and Snow chase after Rew during the night, and during a thunderstorm. Annie returns first, and when she sees Rew, Snow, and her grandmother return, page 182 makes me strongly react in a certain way. Page 182 says, “...Andrew Snow...I saw him, dirty and grim. He was carrying Gran.” When I read this, I have to read it over since it makes me scared. Before I read on, I thought that a tragic event happened to Gran. I also appreciate that the protagonist, Annie, has a younger brother named Rew, who has a unique personality, but I don’t appreciate the way Annie emotionally reacts to events. When Andrew Snow, Annie’s dad who lived in jail escaped from jail, held Annie, Rew, and their guardian, their grandmother, hostage in their own house, Rew reacts as most children would do. He reacts violently and angrily since nobody is telling the police about Snow’s escape from jail. Annie doesn’t do anything, even when Rew makes a letter and asks her to put it in the mailbox when Snow allows her to leave the house. Annie hides the letter and lies to Rew instead since she doesn’t want Snow to go. Annie thinks that Snow was a trustworthy person to be around, but Rew is smarter and knows that he can be dangerous, since the reason that he was sent to jail was that he killed a person. Annie’s grandmother doesn’t do anything either, but for an acceptable reason. She doesn’t want to hear Snow talk to her since she’s disappointed in her son, and Snow keeps trying to ask her questions that she doesn’t want to answer. I partially admire Gran’s personality, while partially disliking it. My favorite thing that I admire about her is that even though she’s experienced at taking care of Annie and Rew, she also can care for herself. When Snow holds her family hostage, she doesn’t talk to anybody, leaving Annie and Rew to take care of themselves. I think that it’s smart to sometimes help yourself first since Gran works hard to take care of Annie and Rew, and can use a break. Gran hides in her room for a long time so Snow doesn’t bother her, which teaches Annie and Rew how to be responsible during these types of situations. My least favorite thing about Gran is that she lies frequently, has a large amount of practice, and uses it to protect information that can should be shared. For example, before Snow came, Gran tells Annie and Rew that their father was killed by an angry man who was sent to jail. It was actually the opposite. Their father killed an angry man and was sent to jail. I believe that Annie and Rew can handle knowing about this since they deserve to know about their own father. Also, when Snow first came to hide in their house, Rew thought that Gran was lying and became extremely violent and angry, since he didn’t believe that Snow was his father at first.
  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2013

    Gr 5-8-It's almost summer and 11-year-old Annie Morgan has a small list of things she hopes to accomplish during her vacation: grow tall, have an adventure, and meet her father. Sadly, the last wish is impossible given her father's death in a brutal fight many years before. Annie and her younger brother, Rew, live with their caring, but mentally unstable, grandmother in the backwoods of Sunshine. The siblings pass the time in the "Zebra Forest" of birches and oaks behind their house, weaving elaborate fantasies of their dad as a pirate or secret agent. When a prison escapee barges into their house and holds them hostage, the siblings are shocked to discover that the interloper is their presumed-dead father, Andrew Snow. Gran's fragile state renders her incapable of helping the children process this revelation. Rew lashes out against his captor, refusing to believe that this man is his dad. Annie is torn between siding with her brother and her desire to know their father. Gewirtz veers away from melodrama, deftly capturing nuances of family dynamics in spare prose. Another notable element is the thematic parallel with Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, which the children read throughout the story. Despite Zebra Forest's slow start, audiences will appreciate this novel's multilayered characters and touching message of hope and forgiveness.-Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2013
    Gewirtz's emotionally intense debut novel about the complications of families offers a perceptive heroine and poetic, impressive prose. In the summer of 1980, 11-year-old Annie and her 9-year-old brother Rew live with their grandmother at the edge of the birch and oak forest they've nicknamed "the Zebra," for its dark and light stripes. Annie shops and pays bills as Gran deteriorates bit by bit, retreating into depression and silence. When the father Annie and Rew believe dead shows up at the door, on the run after a breakout at the nearby state prison, anger, fear and longing envelop the small family. The graceful narrative is articulate and poignant, exploring through Annie's eyes the complex grief of her family's story--the mother who abandoned them, the grandfather who died of a broken heart when his son went to prison, the grandmother who takes the children into her own kind of anonymous witness protection program. A few unlikely elements--the nearly complete isolation of the household for weeks, the awkward expository dialogue between a store clerk and a town resident, Annie's visits to the prison on her own--fade before the strength of the characters and the heartfelt punch of the story. Odd, imperfect and impressive nevertheless, this will appeal to readers who, like Annie and Rew, are a bit beyond their years. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2013
    Grades 5-8 Annie B. and Rew live with their grandma in a cluttered house that backs up on a forest of silent paper-bark trees. Gran has good days and bad days, and Annie and Rew know how to manage her and keep social services at bay. One stormy night, an escaped convict shows up, breaks in, and throws their lives into a tailspin. The convict, Andrew Snow, is their fatheralthough Gran always said he had been killedand he moves in, holding his own family hostage. Each handles the situation in his or her own way. Gran retreats, Rew refuses to deal, and Annie walks a tightrope of reconciliation. Gewirtz channels Annie's perspective with precision, and Annie's matter-of-fact take on her grandmother's hoarding and her father's occupation feels honest and true. The tight narrativeladen with symbolism, such as a copy of Treasure Island missing half of its pages, a backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis, and the forest itselfis held together with the strength of the characters. This slim, tense debut novel will interest children looking for suspense or family drama.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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