Into the Forest Into the Forest discussion


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Naiveté lasted too long

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Christopher Landauer Spoilers, obviously.

The sister's willful delusion that the world was going to come back and that they were better off remaining self-absorbed in their now-worthless dreams (becoming a ballerina and going to Harvard) lasted way too long.

It persisted after their mother died. It persisted after their father died. It persisted after it was crystal clear that they were one small accident away from death. But no, let's keep dancing in our studio! Let's keep reading the encyclopedia from A to Z instead of learning some useful skills!

The epic levels of denial lasted so long, it was a pain to keep reading until the older sister decided, hey, maybe I need to be self sufficient now. And it was frankly offensive that the only event which seemed to jolt the girls out of their mental illness level denial was sex. It's sort of the exact flip of Enkidu from Epic of Gilgamesh. He was tamed into civilization through seduction by a woman. Wild man to cultured man.

The girls in this book had to have sex and be raped before they apparently thought enough of themselves to value their survival over their entertainment.

It seems many of the women reviewers LOVED the first part and hated the second, and had a much worse reaction to the "incest" than the rape. This is something I don't understand. The book didn't get credible and GOOD until the second half where at least the older sister started to take control of her life.

And the "incest" which was handled much less graphically than the detailed fluid obsessed nature of the sex/rape scenes, was some of the only emotional growth we see in the entire book! It was a consensual and positive experience, despite the taboo, and it empowered the younger sister and gave her ownership of her body back. And it was frankly presented as little more than a massage.

I'm not sure why so many of you feel that page after page of pointless bickering and jealousy and hatred between the sisters that we're tortured with for the first 60% of the book was "better" than the self-actualization, maturity, and pro-active stance of the later part of the novel.

The very-very end was as out-of-nowhere and un-necessary as the rape was, I'm clearly not a fan of Hegland's plotting (although her prose is easy and smooth), but it at least advanced the character growth in a way that the author and the characters spent almost all of the rest of the book stubbornly avoiding.

I almost wanted to throw the book across the room when the older sister decided to TURN AROUND after she made the decision to move on with her life and chase hope and growth instead of rotting in the house with her nasty, indulgent sister.

So the fact that the sisters could finally find a means of having a relationship and embracing reality was a welcome change to their seemingly psychopathic immobility to grieve for their mother, father, or lost innocence.


Silverpiper Wow, really harsh. I didn't like this book but I understood it. The two sisters are simply being human and making mistakes in a situation they had not been prepared to handle.

The older sister turns around because she loves her sibling. I chide you gently Christopher but it would indeed be a sad world if survival simply changed us all into heartless savages.

Oh, and Enikdu from Gilagamesh? I think that's a bit over-intellectualized.

I am so sorry that the antics the of a couple of stressed out sisters and a floundering first time author ruffled your feathers so much.


Audra I don't agree with the title of this discussion. It's been a while since I read this but I think she explained why they held on to those dreams for so long. It had to do with keeping their sanity, and keeping their fear in check. Holding on to some part of the reality they were comfortable with while facing a terrifying situation.

I also recall that it was the prospect of running out of food which spurred the older sister to begin farming and researching how to survive. The "boyfriend" didn't show up until later, if I recall correctly.


message 4: by Chelsea (last edited Oct 19, 2014 04:33PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chelsea I think your delivery in your message is a little hostile and could be tamed down quite a bit, but you have some fair points. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but expressing that opinion in an open, neutral way is important.

I enjoyed this book a lot because it defied my expectations. I guess it was her unusual plotting which kept me interested, whereas it seems to drive you into a bit of a rage. I can kind of understand why they chose to live in denial for so long. The world was falling apart around them, but by lucky happenstance they didn't have to witness the worst. They were living in a relatively safe little bubble in the forest. I can understand why you'd want to go on pretending that everything will go back to normal rather than confirming your worst suspicions. Denial is a common method of dealing (well, avoiding really) with problems.

Also, I think you may have the sisters messed up? Isn't the ballerina the older sister? Or am I misremembering?


Silverpiper The younger sister is the ballerina.


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