Book Review: The Forrests by Emily Perkins

Title: The Forrests
Author: Emily Perkins
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
ISBN: 978-1608196777
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

Everyday living is not easy. It has its moments, throughout, but yes there is nothing grand about it. And yet it springs on you in the most unexpected way. In the form of families and what it means to be different from every family member.

“The Forrests” by Emily Perkins is a story of one such family. The plot may not be unique but I liked the way the book was written, in the episodic manner. The impressions made by characters were sharp and edgy. Though the plot is mainly told from one character’s point of view, Ms. Perkins ensures that every character’s nature is displayed.

Now to the plot: The book is about Dorothy Forrest and her life as played out against her family’s saga and trials and tribulations. Her family moves to New Zealand from New York and that is where the story begins. The family experiences love, loss, longing and death – as seen through the central character, Dorothy.

On the surface, it seems like an ordinary tale, but of course it has its own twists and turns that adds to the plot and propels the story. The style of writing reminded me of Faulkner’s, “The Sound and the Fury”, digressing from the past to the present and back and forth. Events take you by surprise and then you wonder: Did it happen in the past or is it taking place now?

The writing is beautiful and yet sometimes I could not connect with the characters and who was who besides Dorothy and Daniel. The book is dreamy and meandering. Sometimes it took a lot from me to move to the next page but when I did, there were also surprises in store, which made me finish the book and enjoy it to a large extent. The landscape of New Zealand is so beautifully described that you just want to be there and read the book to soak it all in.

“The Forrests” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, given the structure and the jumping of episodes. I liked it to some extent and would recommend it if you like dream-like writing, almost surreal.

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