The tight narrative—laden with symbolism, such as a copy of Treasure Island missing half of its pages, a backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis, and the forest itself—is held together with the strength of the characters. This slight, tense debut novel will interest children looking for suspense or family drama.
Gewirtz’s emotionally intense debut novel about the complications of families offers a perceptive heroine and poetic, impressive prose.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Debut author Gewirtz successfully conveys the terror and tedium of being trapped...An emotionally honest family story with an ending that’s hopeful without being implausibly upbeat.
School Library Journal (starred review)
Gewirtz veers away from melodrama, deftly capturing nuances of family dynamics in spare prose. ... [A]udiences will appreciate this novel’s multilayered characters and touching message of hope and forgiveness.
Clever plot twists, lyrical writing and empathetic characters make this book a must-not-miss.
100 Scope Notes (SLJ blog)
With well-crafted characters and an engaging plot that doesn’t plod, Zebra Forest nails the basics. It’s a family mystery that slowly unwinds, with doses of suspense and intensity. ... A skillfully crafted debut novel from an author to watch.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
[T]he absorbing voice and short chapters make this a taut, accessible read (and older readaloud), and kids will be engrossed by Annie’s dilemma.
Acclaim for Zebra Forest
When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. “If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence,” Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room — like she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie tells stories, too, as she and Rew laze under the birches and oaks of Zebra Forest — stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same. Driven by suspense and psychological intrigue, Zebra Forest deftly portrays an unfolding standoff of truth against family secrets — and offers an affecting look at two resourceful, imaginative kids as they react and adapt to the hand they’ve been dealt.