Book on Tape Review :: Our Lady of the Forest

I’ve been debating if I should post a review on this one or not, and obviously I decided in favor. When I started this blog I never would have imagined not reviewing every thing that I could, but I’m realizing that for some books, it is hard to get “up” for it – do you know what I mean?

I didn’t especially like David Guterson’s Our Lady of the Forest, but it wasn’t horrible either. It is the story of Ann (called Ann of Oregon) – a teenage runaway who lives in a campground and makes her menial living picking and selling wild mushrooms. She begins having visions of the Virgin Mary who is instructing her to “build my church.”
In just a couple of days, she has a following of thousands of pilgrims eager to witness her episodes of ecstasy, hoping to be among the first to hear her prophecy and perhaps benefit from a miracle.
A fellow campground neighbor, Carolyn, doesn’t believe Ann, but she does see a great opportunity – that of capitalizing on the notoriety and potentially funding her winter in Mexico. In addition, there is Father Collins, the local priest who is young and liberal, and who has a hard time focusing on Ann’s story rather than her barely pubescent breasts.
And finally Tom Cross, a former forest cutter who quite possibly is the most despicable character I’ve met in recent fiction. He so despised his teenage son he tried to kill him in a lumber “accident.” But instead of killing his son, it left him a paraplegic – and even more hated by his father because now the son is a constant reminder to Tom of just how evil he is.
By the end of the book, Tom’s guilt has him desperate for Ann’s visions and subsequent miracles to be authentic, in the hope that he can somehow find redemption. But, for me, it wasn’t enough.
As I was listening to this, I kept going back to the conversations last fall about flawed characters. The only person I cared anything for – and thus wanted to hear anything about – was Ann. Sweet, but not innocent, Ann has an interesting story. She has a pure and honest voice that is striking in its juxtaposition to Carolyn, Father Collins and Tom.
I didn’t read Snow Falling on Cedars – Guterson’s other book of note but I heard a bit about it, and from what I remember, folks liked it. After this one, I’m not in any hurry to read it.

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