four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
17-July-Aug-2005
By: 
Sue Miller
user_rating: 
0

A-LostForestEva, after a bitter divorce from Mark, is that rare breed; she’s happily remarried, friends with her ex, and living an idyllic life in California’s wine country. Then her second husband John dies in a tragic car accident, and Eva and her children (two from her first marriage, one from her second) must reevaluate their lives and relationships. As Mark tries to rekindle his relationship with Eva, gawky 15-year-old Daisy, navigating between a beautiful older sister and too-young-to-understand brother, turns to an older man. Lost in the Forest explores how the battleground of family love and obligation plays out when tragedy strikes.
Knopf. 247 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 1400042267

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Miller has written powerfully about sex … but never, I think, with quite the combination of attractiveness and repulsion felt here. … But more important and distinctive is the power of a style that never announces itself as ‘style’ and that is consonant with a nonjudgmental poise of presentation." William H. Pritchard

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"The scene of the actual seduction, which lasts not much more than two or three pages, took me two days to complete. It was that unsettling, mainly because it rang so true to life."
David Walton

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"You don’t need to read a book with a title like Lost in the Forest to guess that Sue Miller will be using it to acquaint you with a wolf and a version of Red Riding Hood, a girl teetering on the dangerous cusp between childhood and adulthood, innocence and initiation. … [It] has a seemingly effortless grace; Miller quickly captures and never loses our attention." Kathryn Harrison

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"Miller sticks to one family, but unlike Ian McEwan or Jonathan Franzen, she isn’t trying to examine the state of the world through an intimate lens; she’s trying to examine the complexities of that one family and the inner lives of its members. … Once again, [she] has proven herself a master of contemporary life." Laurie Muchnick

San Antonio Exp-News 4 of 5 Stars
"[She] is perhaps as knowledgeable, and often more insightful, than a well-paid family therapist." Retha Oliver

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Lost in the Forest is a comedy in the exact and best literary sense, for it stresses beautifully the continuation of the social unit with which it is concerned." Richard Bausch

Rocky Mountain News 2 of 5 Stars
"Although Miller’s exploration of grief and self-discovery is both compelling and insightful, the sexual trysts of 16-year-old Daisy are so unforgivingly explicit that Miller’s attempts to uncover the depth of who Daisy is are muddled by a nipple here and an arched back there." Jennie A. Camp

Critical Summary

Who needs family therapy when one has Sue Miller? Lost in the Forest expertly unfolds to a display of realistic characters and troubled situations, including the sexual initiation (or violation?) of a teenage girl. Yet Daisy’s affair represents only one of many challenges the family faces after John’s death—and there are no easy answers. In understated, powerful prose, Miller moves back and forth in time, a device critics saw as either artful or interruptive. There were divergent views on the explicit sex as well. In this meditation on love, loss, grief, and self-discovery, Miller successfully and painfully examines what divides, and then unites and re-divides, our familial core.

Also by the Author

Family Pictures (1990): In 1954, Lainey and David Eberhardt’s son Randall is diagnosed as autistic and, according to medical theory at the time, the disease is Lainey’s fault. She compensates with new pregnancies while the family struggles to deal with a difficult child.