Following is my review of a book I got at goodreads.com, The Forrests by Emily Perkins.
Image courtesy of Amazon
Dorothy Forrest is the main character in this story of a family of four children, two parents, and one friend close enough to be a fifth child. The story begins when Dorothy is seven years old and takes us through her life into old age. As a child her mother moves herself and the children to a wilderness commune while her father goes who-knows-where. Really, it is never explained in the story. We travel with Dorothy as she falls in love, goes into an early marriage, has 4 children, experiences an unexpected loss, and struggles to leave the past in the past.
Many times in this story scenes seemed insignificant, especially when they were not described or ended leaving this reader puzzled. For example, in her later years Dorothy ‘accidentally’ shoplifts a package of buscuits from a store. When caught she is taken into the manager’s office where he goes through a book of previous offenders. When Dorothy sees an old picture of herself the author goes off in another direction and never returns to the moment. We have no idea whether the manager recognized the old picture and what the consequences were. There were times I felt left out. Michael is mentioned many times in the beginning of the story but it is left to the reader (until much later in the story) to figure out that he is Dorothy’s older brother. Something in the past was brought up as if it had been explained to the reader when in fact it hadn’t. Honestly, I couldn’t grasp the meaning of the story except for the obvious – a woman with a dysfunctional and boring life.
This book is described as an extraordinary literary achievement. Maybe it was way over my head but I didn’t find anything extraordinary about it except that the author seems to have deliberately left us to figure things out. Yes, “it tells of family and time, dysfunction, ageing and loneliness, heat, youth, and how life can change if you’re lucky enough to be around for it.” This quote itself doesn’t make sense in that it mentions youth at the end when youth occurs in the beginning. I am not sure where “heat” comes in.
I guess you could say it was the questions that kept me reading on hoping to learn the answers. The only part of the story I really understood was the fifth child/close friend of the family. He is constantly in Dorothy’s thoughts and she is always wondering what happened to him. She hears news of him, sees him briefly on a couple of occasions, and in old age finally seeks him out. That story comes full circle but I wouldn’t say it was extraordinary.
I am not a professional book reviewer and I do not usually write about books I didn’t enjoy. The purpose of receiving free books from goodreads.com is that you post a review the book. I wouldn’t say this was a bad book, I just didn’t get it. Maybe it’s me. If you choose to read this book I would love to hear the opinion of others.