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Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Into the Forest (1996)

by Jean Hegland

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,136417,202 (3.88)45
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The eponymous movie based on this book is now available on the movie channels. As with all dystopian novels, the future is a disaster but the premise differs in presentation for there are only two teenage heroines struggling to survive in a future where men bring only fear. Its an interesting, compelling, and engaging read. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Feb 25, 2017 |
"I have to admit that this notebook, with its wilderness of blank pages, seems almost more threat than gift-- for what can I write here that it will not hurt to remember?"

Nell begins to write in a precious notebook of blank paper when paper isn't being produced anymore - everything has halted. Nell might never see another blank notebook in her life. In this story, two sisters are already living in the deep woods of California with their parents while a things-fall-apart type of situation happens: gasoline isn't being delivered, electricity fails. Nell wanted to go to Harvard. Eva dreamed of dancing ballet professionally like her mother once did. But their plans become impossible like the world suddenly. Only survival is possible. I love Hegland's poetic yet earthy writing. Something in the plot happens that is a little weird... I could have done without that. Since this was published in 1996, there has been a flood of dystopian and apocalyptic novels. This one reminds me of quite a few: Edan Lepucki's 'California' for the same apocalypse setting of the California forests, Marcel Theroux's 'Far North' for the solitude, the easy way things fall apart, and female badassary, and Emily St. John Mandel's 'Station Eleven' for the simple appreciation of the little things during difficult times. ( )
  booklove2 | Oct 15, 2016 |
dystopia novel.
two sister survive isolated in northern california, descend further and further away from civilization and toward nomadic native life. Good description of sisters rxn ( )
  lindaspangler | Oct 14, 2016 |
Into the Forest explores a post-apocalyptic world through the experiences of two teenage sisters living in a cottage nestled in a Northern California forest. Nell, lover of math and science, narrates by way of her journals. Eva, the dancer, Nell's older sister. Homechooled their whole lives, and still reeling from the loss of their mother to cancer the previous year, their world is slowly dismantled as the surrounding community (and almost certainly all of the U.S.) falls apart following the widespread loss of electricity.

While quiet in its portrayal of the end of the world, Nell and Eva deal with horrific situations as best they can, eventually realizing survival depends on adaptation and acceptance.

I never knew how much we consumed. It seems as if we are all appetite, as if a human being is simply a bundle of needs to drain the world. It's no wonder there are wars, no wonder the earth and water and air are polluted. It's no wonder the economy collapsed, if Eva and I use so much merely to stay alive.

A moving story about the bonds of sisterhood and, ultimately, a hopeful beginning in the wake of the world's end.

3.5 stars

There is one scene where Nell and Eva "make love." It seems to be a one-off incident in reaction to Eva's rape. I guess Nell wanted to comfort Eva? Frankly, it was weird and more than a little uncomfortable. I just kept asking, why? And I'll admit that scene is the main reason I rated this 3.5 instead of 4.5 stars. Not because I was offended by the incest, but because it didn't seem to fit the rest of the story. ( )
  flying_monkeys | Oct 11, 2016 |
Beautifully written depiction of apocalypse on the slow, the world falling apart as two teenage girls try to manage on their own in a remote woodland house.

But as beautiful as the writing is, it was ruined for me by a spectacularly bad ending.

Full review @Booklikes ( )
  krazykiwi | Aug 22, 2016 |
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For Douglas Fisher
and Garth Leonard Fisher

and in memory of
Leonard Hegland
First words
It's strange, writing these first words, like leaning down into the musty stillness of a well and seeing my face peer up from the water- so small and from such an unfamiliar angle I'm startled to realize the reflection is my own.
"People have been around for at least 100,000 years. And how long have we had electricity?"
"Well, Edison invented the incadescent lamp in 1879." "See? All this," and she swung her arm to encircle the rooms of the only house I'd ever know, "was only a fugue state." She pointed to the blackness framed by the open door. "Our real lives are out there."
It seems as if we are all appetite, as if a human being is simply a bundle of needs to drain the world.
I could not save all the stories, could not hope to preserve all the information - that was too vast, too disparate, perhaps even too dangerous. But I could take the encyclopedia's index, could try to keep that master list of all that had once been made or told or understood. Perhaps we could create new stories; perhaps we could discover a new knowledge that would sustain us. In the meantime, I would take the Index for memory's sake, so I could remember the map of all we'd had to leave behind.
It seemed the forest had everything we needed. Every mushroom or flower or fern or stone was a gift. Every noise was an adventure to be investigated. Frequently we saw deer or rabbits or heard the call of wild turkeys. Occasionally we glimpsed a grey fox or a skunk.
Slowly I'm beginning to untangle the forest, to attach names to the plants that fill it.... "Native Plants" says the maples in these woods will produce sugar sap, that coltsfoot leaves can give us salt, that the Indians who once lived here used Spanish moss for diapers, California poppy as a painkiller, and moulded acorn metal as an antibiotic. There are plants to stop fever, plants to relieve colds, plants to soothe rashes and menstrual cramps. There are teas.... And there are acorns. "Native Plants" says, "Worldwide and throughout history, acorns have served as a staple part of the diet of many peoples".
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553379615, Paperback)

Jean Hegland's prose in Into the Forest is as breathtaking as one of the musty, ancient redwoods that share the woodland with Nell and Eva, two sisters who must learn to live in harmony with the northern California forest when the electricity shuts off, the phones go out, their parents die, and all civilization beyond them seems to grind to a halt. At first, the girls rely on stores of food left in their parents' pantry, but when those supplies begin to dwindle, their only option is to turn to each other and the forest's plants and animals for friendship, courage, and sustenance. Into the Forest, an apocalyptic coming-of-age story, will fill readers (both teens and adults) with a profound sense of the human spirit's strength and beauty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:49 -0400)

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Two sisters survive a near-future apocalypse and retreat into a forest where they relearn what it means to be human.

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