Summary: Annie and her brother Rew know very little about their parents, just the few things Gran has told them.  Since Gran is a master of lies, the little they know might not even be true.  Gran is getting worse, spending more and more days up in her room, frequently leaving the siblings to fend for themselves. Then ,a stranger shows up at their door.  The stranger brings answers, but these answers make Annie and Rew question everything.  

ThoughtsZebra Forest is a powerful little novel.  Annie B, the spunky sixth-grader at the center of the story, stole my heart immediately.  She has been forced to grow up beyond her years and has done her best to care for Rew, her mentally ill grandmother, and herself.  She longs to know about her past, her dead father, and the mother who left her when she was three.  The story takes place during the Iran Hostage Crisis which sets the perfect backdrop as Annie and Rew become trapped in their own family crisis.   

Zebra Forest explores heavy themes such as family secrets, lies, betrayal, complicated relationships, crime, and abandonment.  But, all is done adeptly and beautifully through realistic, well-developed characters and a suspenseful plot that grab and hold the reader to the hopeful end.  The classic Treasure Island, the siblings’ beloved book, is used effectively as the children seek escape from their circumstances, question the world, and find the truth.  

Read Zebra Forest if you … 

  • are looking for a gripping read 
  • enjoy a short novel that packs a powerful punch
  • appreciate books about children dealing with tough circumstances such So B. It by Sarah Weeks and Homesick by Kate Klise
  • love heroines with pluck
  • like reading debut novels by exciting new authors 

  Visit Adina Rishe Gewirtz’s webpage and expect more from this debut YA author!