Monday, August 5, 2013

Into That Forest, by Louis Nowra

It's crazy to think how quickly we can lose what makes us 'human' - things like speech - but that's exactly what happens to two girls in Into that Forest. Hannah and Becky live simple, rural lives, but find their worlds turned upside down when Hannah's parents are killed in a boating accident in the Tasmanian bush. A pair of tigers - a male and female - approaches the girls and leads them to their shelter. At first, Becky is resistant, holding out hope that they will be rescued, but it's not long before the two girls have abandoned all of their human ways. They sleep with the lions, hunt with the lions, walk on all fours, and communicate with grunts and growls; they completely lose their ability to make words.

Years later, Becky's father discovers the girls after hearing reports that two humans were spotted hunting with tigers. He seemingly brutally captures the girls and attempts to assimilate them back into society. But after all they've been through, everyone involved discovers that this re-assimilation will be nearly impossible - they can't fully recoup their lost ways. One thing the girls will never lose, though, is their tragic bond.

I thought the idea behind this novel was incredibly interesting, but I found it a little too graphic for my taste. The descriptions of eating raw meat while with the tigers was a little too much for me to handle. My students do like survival stories, but I tend to think this might be a little much for them as well.

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