When Zebra Forest was first shown to me, I was attracted by the cover – but it gave little away about the story beneath. That said, this debut novel by Adina Gewirtz is an intriguing and thoughtful novel about family relationships, and the shaping of our memories.
Annie B. and her younger brother Rew live with their grandmother. They know little about their past – not even their mother’s name, and assume their father is dead. Their unusual family setup is accepted by their local comunity – even school fails to worry should they not turn up regularly, as Annie takes on tasks for her brooding grandmother.
As summer vacation approaches, eleven year old Annie is suddenly confronted at home by a prison escapee, and all her understandings about her family history are shaken, as she and Rew and Gran are taken hostage.
Who is this escapee? How will they, as hostages, deal with their situation? And what will it mean for their family – this threat, this intrusion on their day-to-day existence? Will anyone notice their absence?
Perhaps one of the tragic points hidden in Gewirtz book is the fact that there is little intrusion or investigation when Annie and Rew don’t appear at school; and there is little community concern for Gran – an elderly person repsonsible for the care of 2 young children. Is this a reflection of society today? Or would there be more concern for the family held hostage by a convicted murderer in reality?
Is this just poetic licence explaining away family isolation? What do you think? Could the events of Zebra Forest happen in real life? If so, what should we do about it?
Here’s a book trailer introduction to Zebra Forest: