Zebra Forest | Adina Rishe Gewirtz | Book Review

Perhaps this makes me sound like a total hipster, but I enjoy reading books that aren’t very commercial. I love books that have some literary merit as well as entertainment value. When Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz popped up on my radar, I knew I had to read this middle grade debut. First of all, it’s published by Candlewick, from whom I have come to expect intelligent books. Second of all, that cover y’all. That cover. Third, I love books about siblings and troubled kids. Fourth, it seemed like it would be a quiet and not very in your face sort of read — which is another thing that I very much appreciate. Thankfully, for me, Zebra Forest delivered on all fronts.

Annie and Rew are brother and sister. They live with their grandma in a house on the outskirts of a forest that they call zebra forest, because of the trees. Annie is the oldest, at 11 years old and is mature for her years. You see, her grandma is kind of agoraphobic, so it’s up to Annie to pick up groceries and pay bills. School has let out for the summer. The summer should be relatively low key. Only, there’s this big jail break out. Unfortunately, one of the escaped convicts decides to take up residence in Annie’s house and holds them all hostage. Mirroring this is the hostage situation in Iran, which Annie sees on the news (again, I love literary books with themes and stuff, ESPECIALLY BOOKS AIMED AT KIDS). Of course, some secrets come to light and with each turn of the pages of Zebra Forest, I found myself surprised, but also enraptured by the writing style. ALSO. Going in, I totally did not realize that Zebra Fiction was historical fiction, so that was also a pleasant surprise.

Annie is quite precocious but not in an annoying way. I mean, she’s reading things like Treasure Island, which shows up quite a bit in Zebra Forest and discussing why certain characters are her favorite. As a fellow reader, I love when characters express their love of certain treasured books. I also loved how close Annie is with her brother, Rew. I love how she kind of takes care of him. I know I know, kids shouldn’t play the surrogate role at all, that’s not okay, but their bond was very special to me. I also liked how responsible Annie was, like she has her self together, more together than a lot of older people. I suppose, I just really identified with her, even if I could not decide if she had Stockholm syndrome or not.

Going in, I knew that Zebra Forest would not be one of those plot thrill ride sort of books and to not expect that, despite the summary. So, I read this book for the characterization and depiction of family relationships. I was actually very satisfied by the book. I loved how complicated the relationships were- both between Annie and Rew and between Annie and the convict. I loved the in-depth look we got at each of the characters. It goes without saying that Adina Rishe Gewirtz did not dumb down her book for the audience. I actually think that clever kids who loved books like Bridge To Terabithia will enjoy Zebra Forest.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other reviews of Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz:

Pretty Deadly Reviews – “a quiet, character-driven emotional tilt-a-whirl.
Great Imaginations – “Make no mistake, this is not a book for everyone.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. This sounds really interesting – even if I’m not completely sure if I’d like to pick up a MG book or not, I will be adding it to my TBR just in case… I love precocious kids, and even if I agree with you about children and surrogate roles, I think it’s important that siblings learn to take care of each other as well – not only that the older care for the younger – because they are family.

  2. Lovely review. I haven’t seen this one before, and I’m adding it to my list. I’m also happy it’s historical — my favorite…

  3. Oooh, I’ve actually already added this to my to-read list, but I am further encouraged that you liked it so much. Things that sound awesome: historical fiction, precociousness, and that it doesn’t talk down to the kids which is what happens in the worst kids’ books.

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