Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest" by Amos Oz

"Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest" by Amoz Oz

In a gray and gloomy village, all of the animals—from dogs and cats to fish and snails—disappeared years before. No one talks about it and no one knows why, though everyone agrees that the village has been cursed. But when two children see a fish—a tiny one and just for a second—they become determined to unravel the mystery of where the animals have gone. And so they travel into the depths of the forest with that mission in mind, terrified and hopeful about what they may encounter.

From the internationally bestselling author Amos Oz, this is a hauntingly beautiful fable for both children and adults about tolerance, loneliness, denial, and remembrance.

I have actually never heard of Amos Oz, so I am not really aware of his fame or books. This book which is targeted more towards upper elementary age, has an edge of mystery and fantasy at the same time.

The author shares a story that begins in a village entirely without animals. No one really knows what happened to them - and even most of the adults act as if they never really existed. Its as if they have a secret of their own. A few older inhabitants, such as Emanuella the teacher or Almon the Fisherman, still remember what dogs, cats, and goats looked and sounded like, but people treat their memories with unconvinced indulgence. Almon, of course, is no longer a fisherman because there are no longer fish to catch; he spends his days talking to his scarecrow, even though there are no birds to scare away. No woodworm, either, to send him to sleep with the sound of their gentle chomping on his furniture. One night, all the animals suddenly disappeared, taken up presumably into the dark forest-clad mountains surrounding the village. The inhabitants lock their doors securely at night, for Nehi the Demon is liable to come prowling and snatch children away, as he has already taken the animals (which again, is treated as a folk tale that the adults take very seriously).

Two children, Matti and Maya (who are friends) share a secret and decide that they must go find out for themselves what happened to all of the living (non-human) creatures. They discover so many things at the top of the forest...but you will have to read the book for yourself to find out!

Mr. Oz's Hebrew translates beautifully as he contrasts humans with lower animals: "the languages of animals and birds have many fewer words than the languages of people, and they have only the present tense, there's no past or future at all, and they have only verbs, nouns, and interjections, no other forms. . . Creatures even have special words that express joy, excitement, amazement, and pleasure. . . Other creatures even have certain words that resemble prayer: special words of thanks for the sunlight. . . And they have words of longing. But none of the creatures' languages have any words meant to humiliate or ridicule."

At the heart of this little gem of a story is Mr. Oz's message: we should not ridicule or humiliate those of us who are different. And he asks a hard question: if we are humiliated or reviled, are we justified in running away and/or seeking revenge? In his perfect world we would not eat the lower animals either.

Mr. Oz works his magic by the things that happen in the forest, certainly a device that has been used by writers of all nations and ages from Dante to Hawthorne. He contrasts the mystery and danger of the forest with the beauty and sublimity of a garden, another device as old as the Genesis story.

My thoughts:The first half of the book was enchanting...written in beautiful imagery, and I was very curious to learn about all of the people who lived in the village - as well as the mystery of what happens at night, where did all of the animals go, and who was Nehi the demon?

The plot is very captivating, and makes you yearn for more...but I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the ending - I felt that I did not get my questions answered. I won't share them here, for sake of ruining the book for you future readers...but I just don't understand why it ended that way.

To read more about the book:

Find it on Amazon (Will be published: 3/21/11):

Thank You so much Net Galley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read this book! I cannot wait to read more books from you in the future!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Net Galley review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

No comments:

Post a Comment