Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book in two sittings, and I couldn't put it down. First, I could relate to the homeschooling/ unschooling in the story, as my family homeschooled for 12 years. Everything the girls (mainly Nell) learned, she learned on her own, through her own interests, from books, from trial and error, from invention. I found it all fascinating and believable, and often enviable. It is the first fiction book I've read about unschooling and it delivered! Also, I felt that the way the world was crumbling could actually happen during our lifetime, as the signs of "Armageddon" are here today.
As to the characters, I liked Nell more than Eva, as I thought she was more I interesting and resourceful and nicer. I thought Eva was more selfish and self- centered and distant. But I did enjoy the whole ballet theme with Eva, as I have family members in ballet, as professional dancers. On the other hand, Nell was more needy. I admit that I did like her mother's pushing her to entertain herself, to pursue her own dreams, and to "be her own person," when she whined about Eva's desertion of her in pursuit of ballet.
At the end of the book Eva "stepped up" and took charge and I think the book ended in the best way it could. Her decision was the best course of action and well thought out. At the same time, it was a leap of faith and scary, to me, as I don't thnk I could live that way, forever. But, like Eva said, people lived like that for millenniums and the human race survived and thrived.
I wonder if a sequel will be written? I want to know how Burl was raised (clothes? diapers?), what happened to the boyfriend who hiked across the U.S. to Boston, what happened to the rest of the U.S. and all other countries and societies, whether the girls ever leave the forest again, etc. etc. I cannot figure out the symbolism with the bear dreams. What did they all mean? Hopefully our book club discussion of the book will be interesting, stimulating, and dynamic! By the way, I cried at the end as I was very moved.