3 A peculiar book inspired by a purportedly true and very peculiar story from another continent Two young girls, aged about six and seven, are stranded in a storm and adopted by a pair of Tasmanian Tigers, living with them in a forest cave for several years The story is told in broken English by the older of the two in her old age She begins Me name be Hannah O Brien and I be seventy six years old Me first thing is an apology me language is bad cos I lost it and had to learn it again But here s me story and I be glad to tell it before I hop the twig A violent storm wrenches the two children from their families, and the raging river separates them from their homes.A female Tasmanian Tiger now extinct drags the older girl, Hannah, out of the river and onto the bank The next day, it returns, and they follow it for a day or so back to its den Hannah names her and her mate Corrina and Dave, after an aunt and uncle Becky remains terrified, but is glad for the warmth of the den.Long story short, they live there for several years, lose their language, and become animals themselves I found too much of this unrealistic I doubt children of this age would crave food so desperately that they would develop a taste for blood or a tiny dead bird on the second day The bird felt warm when I touched it and I dipped me finger into its bloody chest and licked the blood off me finger It tasted rich like molasses I were starving and the tasted of blood made me feel even hungry I could feel the blood dribbling down me chin and for some reason it made me happy I could feel me tummy filling up a little and that felt good Becky is horrified, until eventually she wholeheartedly dives into the slaughter of other animals When they do see a man, they realise he s the dreadful hunter that Hannah met at home who shoots all the tigers, so they dodge him I found it too unbelievable that girls this age would lose all language and become dogs Maybe one child with nobody to talk to would While there have always been popular stories about children raised by animals Romulus and Remus, Tarzan, Jungle Boy , this one is based on an apparently true one, and I found those accounts interesting than the book.This is written as a Young Adult novel, but I m not sure what difference that makes Here are links to the other stories I mentioned The third link has photos of children who were found.http www.midnapore.in wolf childrenThe Diary of the Wolf Children of MidnaporeWritten by The Reverend J A L Singh Missionary S P G Mission and the Rector The Orphanage, Midnapore Midnapore, India.https www.kirkusreviews.com book rehttp neamathisi.com new learning ch Me Name Be Hannah O Brien And I Be Seventy Six Years Old Me First Thing Is An Apology Me Language Is Bad Cos I Lost It And Had To Learn It Again But Here S Me Story And I Be Glad To Tell It Before I Hop The TwigSo Begins This Extraordinary Novel, Which Will Transport You To Australia S Wild Frontier And Stay In Your Mind Long After You Ve Finished Reading Now seventy six years old, Hannah O Brien puts pen to paper to tell the story of her unique childhood when she was just six years old, a tragedy leaves her and a friend, seven year old Becky, lost and alone in the bush They are rescued by a female Thylacine a Tasmanian Tiger who takes them back to her den where her mate is For about four years they live in harmony with the pair of Thylacines, learning to hunt and communicate through grunts and yawns the distinctive wide open mouth Hannah takes to it quickly, Becky cautiously, but soon enough the girls are Thylacine than human.But this is the 19th century and with a bounty on the head of every tiger in the island state, life on the upper end of the food chain is far from a safe one And while Hannah may be an orphan, Becky still has a father out there, a man who has never given up looking for his little girl.This book is powerful, magical, enthralling and for someone who grew up in Tasmania and loves it than any other place on earth hugely sentimental in a deeply personal, nostalgic way.International readers may not be as familiar with the Tasmanian Tiger as Australians are, so I ll give you a bit of background Thylacines as they are properly called are carnivorous marsupials This means they have a pouch, like koalas, wombats, devils, kangaroos and pretty much every other native animal in the country They once roamed across the whole continent of Australia as well as New Guinea, but after Tasmania separated from the mainland, they became confined to the island probably the Dingo, which the Aborigines brought with them about 20,000 years ago, were too competitive for the tigers on the mainland Then came the English settlers, and their flocks of sheep and poultry When sheep started turning up mauled or missing, the farmers blamed the tigers Classic scapegoat situation do you blame the dogs you brought with you, or do you blame the weird and little known native carnivore that might just be creeping you out The last Thylacine died in the Hobart Zoo in the early 20th century they have since been classified as extinct and have certainly not been seen in the last 70 years or so since that time though Tasmania is a wild place and we all live in hope that they re just hiding out it s a vain hope though Between the bounty on their skins, introduced disease and a shrinking gene pool, the Thylacine didn t have much chance of survival in the long term It s just such a handsome, stunning animal, and very unique It s jaw could open incredibly wide, much like a Tasmania Devil, and it was a distinctive creature, looking part dog, part tiger, but was actually neither Sometime during the 20th century, the Thylacine became a Tasmanian icon, an emblem that captured everything we were proud of The tiger figures prominently in our collective consciousness, our culture, and most certainly in our art The other aspect of Australian culture that figures prominently in Louis Nowra s Into That Forest is the idea of people, especially children, being lost in the bush I studied this at university in one of my Honours English classes Australia is so untamed and wild, but that s not entirely it There s just some quality to the Australian bush forest that lures us in There are stories from early colonies of people just dropping what they were doing like hanging the laundry on the line and walking into the bush, never to be seen again Certainly your chances of finding your way out again are pretty slim Think Picnic at Hanging Rock as a story book and film that really exemplifies this.In the case of Into That Forest, the two girls didn t wander off circumstances caused them to be lost in the bush with no hope of rescue Being taken in by Tasmanian tigers isn t as far fetched as it might sound at first there are stories from settlers, even hunters, of tigers helping people They were shy, elusive but very curious and very protective animals Hannah gives them names Dave and Corinna but even without them, the tigers come alive They aren t anthropomorphised at all, but by being so close to them the animals personalities and individual characteristics become vivid Hannah s transformation to pseudo tiger happens quickly she s so young, and less attached to her human life than Becky, and quickly grasps that if they don t do what they need to do to survive, then they ll die.The tiger dropped the bird on me lap It were bloody and its head chewed, its belly tore open I knew it were a present Thank you, I said, and I swear, I swear on me mother and father s heart, that it knew what I said cos it kind of nodded as if saying Eat it and trotted outside The bird felt warm when I touched it and I dipped me finger into its bloody chest and licked the blood off me finger It tasted rich like molasses Becky made disgusted noises It s not cooked, she groaned I told her I remember me father telling me stories bout how he ate snakes and cockroaches, so a bird were fine to eat pp.38 9 What s really extraordinary is how the two girls take to hunting, how the imminent chase and blood letting makes them excited this never really leaves them So much of their life with the tigers becomes real to them than the human world and society They become nocturnal, because that s when the thylacines hunt Their sense of smell and hearing becomes acute, and they can identify all the bush sounds that they hear Our world were a dark world Most of our prey were creatures of the night like us Sometimes at night it were like the whole of the bush were humming There d be the scratching, hunting, searching, fighting, snorting, barking, clicking noises of the dying bandicoots, the quolls, the mice, rabbits, dunnarts, possums, pademelons, grumpy wombats, swamp antechinus, potoroos, bettongs it may be the secret dark world to humans but to me and Becky it were easy to see in I knew what every silhouette, every shadow meant, no matter how quick the animal or bird were Day were when animals hid in their burrows or in hollow trees, night were when we all came alive pp.108 9 But the story isn t just about their time in the bush those four years it s also about what came after Hannah and Becky struggle to adjust to being human girls, and fight it, and the two parts of them are never really reconciled.This is a tragic story, make no mistake, and a deeply human one human as it encompasses animal Written in Hannah s distinctive voice one of the first things she does is apologise for her poor spelling and grammar there are hidden layers to the story that make it so much richer Life in the wilderness becomes real and beautiful than anything human society can offer This is magical storytelling at its best, effortlessly blending fact and fiction and recreating a long gone historical setting in all its smells and sights and textures and colloquialisms It raises questions of what it really means to be human, and what it means to be a good human Readers of all ages will devour this, and it deserves to go onto school reading lists One of the best books I ve read this year. Warning this book will break your heart In college, as a sociology minor and over all sociology groupie bum, I became aware and a little obsessed with the happening of feral children There were cases of children who had been locked in one room for all their developmental years, knew nothing of language or social interaction, and later, either their remains were found, or they were rescued and the long process began of assimilating these children back into society There were cases of children who had run off or were abandoned who claimed to have been raised and reared by wolves These stories were and still are completely fascinating to me This is probably why I was destined to love Into That Forest But not for the sole reason that two girls were accepted by tigers, but also because this book is about adventure The book would ve been enough with just the main element, but instead the author went even further into taking us into life in Tasmania, which before this book, I had only very basic knowledge of Um, it s got like Tasmanian Devils And it s near Australia I think This is easily one of my new favorite books, and I will be recommending this to people whom I think would see it for the heart breaking beauty that it truly is. So the in general story, two girls are marooned away from civilization in Tasmania and taken in by a couple of tigers pretty sure they don t mean tigers like the rest of the world thinks of tigers, as they also refer to them as Tasmanian Tigers and Dingos, but they are never very clear who help them survive in the wild for four years After they are re claimed by humanity, the story follows their struggles in re learning how to be people So a couple of reviewers have hit on two of my issues with this book First, the dialect language which the author decided meant incorrect gramatical english and slang or curse words wherever they can put them instead of the proper english term Supposedly, this is to give the feel that the character lost their language and had to re learn it, but having read dialect language before, this gave a sense of wanting to shock the reader to get attention The second problem that other reviewers have mentioned is the lack of chapters I got the sense this was to share the experience with the main character, as she mentions loosing all track of time except for the seasons, and to that extent it worked As the reader, I felt soooo bogged down without chapter breaks that rather than being drawn into the story, it made me much less eager to pick up the book each time, eventaully pushing me to the point of forcing myself to a certain page number just to finish My last issue is one I haven t noticed in other reviews, but it is my biggest problem with the book it feels like a smart alecky wink nod saying Just give me an award for my writting It is horribly pretentious The story isn t that good, none of the characters are likable, the main plot is depressing and the writting is weak as mentioned before, relies way too heavily on the shock factor I ve kept a fairly good record of books I ve read since middle school, and of this over a thousand collection of books, there are eight that I hated and found no redemptive aspect to at all After finishing this book, there are nine I would recomend this book for no one, particularly not for anyone struggling with english or reading If animal behavior is of interest to you, it is one of my favorite subjects there are many better sources, don t waste your time with this. Content notes Language is atrocious Both the amount of swear words, crude terms and incorrect grammer, all of which are highly prevalent, I m guessing one page would have at least three bad words on average, most Sensuality wise, the tigers breed near the girls, one girl is almost raped, they observe a man doing rude things to himself and after re joining society the girls are often the punch line of crude suggestive jokes Violence is probably the least objectionable, it s mostly nature show type animal violence though when the girls are first back, their animal behavior to other people, including being willing to bite them and considering riping peoples throats out with the teeth is rather disturbing. It s strange to think that, under the right conditions, humans can revert back to the wild state our ancestors worked so hard to detach civilised society from After all, we still have the tools keen eyesight and hearing, a decent sense of smell and a predators ability to problem solve, we just fail to utilise them, or simply employ them in different ways And regressing to the wild side is exactly what happens in Into That Forest stranded in the Tasmanian wilderness, two young girls, Hannah and Becky, are adopted by a pair of Tasmanian tigers and spend the subsequent four years learning to hunt, read the outback and generally live as wild animals.As the girls integrate themselves with their new parents, they lose the use of English, instead opting to employ the grunts, snarls and body language of the tigers They also disregard their clothes and reject the two limbed approach to running The harsh realities of the wilderness also start to stimulate the girls animal instincts they begin to give into the passion of the hunt and even develop a taste for warm blood and raw flesh there are no punches pulled here, this is a full and, at times, brutal transformation.The book is narrated from the perspective of a seventy six year old version of Hannah in a slightly non standard English as she looks back on her time with the tigers However, this doesn t take away from the deeply absorbing plot, far from it The events are described in such a way that a subtle sense of foreboding begins to infiltrate the text, and this foreboding is realised in a series of heart wrenching events beginning around the book s halfway point, and culminating in the devastatingly effective ending.A central theme is the concept of wilderness, or, specifically, the question once the wilderness is inside you, can you ever truly leave it behind But there are other themes at play too, perhaps most notably the effect of loss Hannah loses her parents early on and the tigers adopt the girls having been robbed of their own cubs and these themes intertwine wonderfully, inferring the novel s ultimate question if you lose something precious, would you want it back even if it s changed Often with a novel like this, it s the portrayal of the animals that can be the let down they can be too Disney fied, stifling the immersive effect of the prose no matter how good the writing But that s just not the case with Into That Forest the tigers Hannah names them Dave and Corinna bite the girls when they don t like something they re doing, viciously establish a precise feeding order, and, when another male tiger arrives on the scene, battle commences over mating rights with Corinna It s a wonderful account of predatory life and contains some beautifully written, intimate moments which are all the touching because of the savagery surrounding them.The final thing to say about Into That Forest is that the text is interspersed with the occasional illustration Joe McLaren s ink drawings are beautifully subtle, and mirror the powerful effect of the sublime and deceptively simplistic writing Together, both text and illustration ensure that thoughts of Hannah, Becky and the tigers will linger in your mind for days after you ve finished the novel, probably much longer. There have been plenty of plot summaries of this book, some describing this story in a repulsive, disgusted sort of sense as if the book itself presented a threat on some very visceral level, while choosing to ignore content altogether and instead seemed preoccupied with the author s writing style and chose not to finish the book but rated it anyway, a practice I personally don t hold with How can you fully assess a books merits if you ve jumped ship I choose to file these books as abandoned as I feel if haven t really read the book, I should leave the the ratings and dialogue to those who have a better understanding But back the Forest In my opinion, the real issues in this very unusual short novel are difficult to confront but ultimately essential, in our current circumstances than ever necessary to explore Louis Nowra in creating a story where human children, due to misfortune, come upon tigers who after some time come to accept them as their own, and conversely those same children bonding with the tigers parentally, and consequently slowly shedding their humanness to identify and as wild animals, brings up interesting yet seriously uncomfortable issues to confront and be truly honest about Some of the deep issues posed by the author range from how repellent is it that these young girls are reduced to wild animals versus the behavior of adult humans as hunters and the horrible lengths they go to in their own type of unraveling to bring down their animals as their prey And lastly what does humanity truly mean There are also other insightful and deep issues to ponder, and I have found my mind continually returning to this book like a magnet over and over again In that Forest is not by any means an easy read, but for it s unique voice, it s utter beauty, and it s thought provoking insight, it held me rapt from the first page to the last and left me feeling I d had a unique experience and for those reasons I gave this book 5 stars and would give it were it possible.I won this book in a giveaway from First Reads for Publishing and in exchange have given an honest review. Pages read 25Nope I cannot This book is not my thing on so many levels The premise made me think of Life of Pi which I loved, but, sadly, I hadn t seen a sample of the writing.Insurmountable obstacles between me and Into That Forest 1 Dialect alone, this might not have been a dealbreaker It seems decently well done here, but it s not my favorite style ever, and slows my reading significantly, since I mentally edit.2 There are no chapters I like having regular breaks to process and put the book down if I need or want to There are some page breaks, but, so far as I could tell, from page 1 until page 72, there were no stopping points.3 The paragraphs are long and unwieldy Dialog is inserted into the long paragraphs in italics, which is weird, because that s generally how thoughts are done This means every page is completely full of text The human eye likes a bit of white space, which gives the brain a break.There s nothing wrong with writing a book this way, but, individually, these styles grate on me as a reader and combined it s like my personal hell I wanted to stick it out until the girls started living with the tigers, hoping it might improve On the first morning after the parents died or were separated from the girls, a tiger brings them a dead bird and the MC just chomps right in, feathers and all I m sorry, but you would not be starvation hungry in that amount of time, so you could cook and defeather the damn bird That is disgusting and unnecessary If that s what the girl is like after half a day on her own in the wild, I do not want to know what she gets up to in YEARS raised by tigers.Nope, book and I are done. I read Into That Forest by Louis Nowra at the end of April because I wanted a short book that I could read in one day I never imagined what a powerhouse it would be when I picked it up I also didn t know anything about Tasmania, the setting of this novel I learned for the first time that it s an island off the coast of Australia I hadn t heard of the award winning Australian author Louis Nowra either This shows that I m woefully ignorant about Australia and Australian writers I hope to remedy this ignorance.This is not a sweet story It s a rather grim tale dealing with violence and savagery It raises the issue of whether tigers or humans are savage My experience of reading this book was emotionally intense, and I feel that the themes involved in this novel are mature ones The publisher markets it for children above twelve, but children mature at different rates I would advise parents to read this book with their children and discuss it with them.For my complete review see This was an unusual book Easily read in a single sitting, it spins the tale of two little girls taken in and raised by a pair of Tasmanian tigers It illustrates the remarkable resilience of the spirit as well as the ability to revert to pure animal behavior in order to survive The story was sad, as it almost had to be The dialect may put off some readers, but it fit the storyline and was not difficult to follow As a rule, I am not into cover art, but this one is particularly striking This was a first reads giveaway, thank you.
Louis Nowra born 12 December 1950 is an Australian writer, playwright, screenwriter and librettist His most significant plays are Cos , Byzantine Flowers, Summer of the Aliens, Radiance, and The Golden Age In 2007 he completed the The Boyce Trilogy for Griffin Theatre Company, consisting of The Woman with Dog s Eyes, The Marvellous Boy and The Emperor of Sydney Many of his plays have been fil
- 178 pages
- Into That Forest
- Louis Nowra
- 21 December 2019 Louis Nowra