Trisha McFarland is a plucky 9-year-old hiking with her brother and mom, who is grimly determined to give the kids a good time on their weekends together. Trisha's mom is recently divorced, and her brother is feuding with her for moving from Boston to small-town Maine, where classmates razz him. Trisha steps off the trail for a pee and a respite from the bickering. And gets lost.
Trisha's odyssey succeeds on several levels. King renders her consciousness of increasing peril beautifully, from the "first minnowy flutter of disquiet" in her guts to her into-the-wild tumbles to her descent into hallucinations, the nicest being her beloved Red Sox baseball pitcher Tom Gordon, whose exploits she listens to on her Walkman. The nature writing is accurate, tense, and sometimes lyrical, from the maddening whine of the no-see-um mosquito to the profound obbligato of the "Subaudible" (Trisha's dad's term for nature's intimations of God). Our identification with Trisha deepens as we learn about her loved ones: Dad, a dreamboat whose beer habit could sink him; loving but stubborn Mom; Trisha's best pal, Pepsi Robichaud, vividly evoked by her colorful sayings ("Don't go all GIRLY on me, McFarland!"). The personal associations triggered by a full moon, the running monologue with which she stays sane--we who have been lost in woods will recognize these things.
In King's revealing Amazon.com interview, he said the one book he wishes he'd written was Lord of the Flies. When Trisha confronts a vision of buzzing horror in the middle of the woods, King creates his strongest echo yet of the central passage of Golding's novel. --Tim Appelo
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From Publishers Weekly
"The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted." King's new novelAwhich begins with that sentenceAhas teeth, too, and it bites hard. Readers will bite right back. Always one to go for the throat, King crafts a story that concerns not just anyone lost in the Maine-New Hampshire woods, but a plucky nine-year-old girl, and from a broken home, no less. This stacked deck is flush with aces, however. King has always excelled at writing about children, and Trisha McFarland, dressed in jeans and a Red Sox jersey and cap when she wanders off the forest path, away from her mother and brother and toward tremendous danger, is his strongest kid character yet, wholly believable and achingly empathetic in her vulnerability and resourcefulness. Trisha spends nine days (eight nights) in the forest, ravaged by wasps, thirst, hunger, illness, loneliness and terror. Her knapsack with a little food and water helps, but not as much as the Walkman that allows her to listen to Sox games, a crucial link to the outside world. Love of baseball suffuses the novel, from the chapter headings (e.g., "Bottom of the Ninth") to Trisha's reliance, through fevered imagined conversations with him, on (real life) Boston pitcher Tom Gordon and his grace under pressure. King renders the woods as an eerie wonderland, one harboring a something stalking Trisha but also, just perhaps, God: he explicitly explores questions of faith here (as he has before, as in Desperation) but without impeding the rush of the narrative. Despite its brevity, the novel ripples with ideas, striking images, pop culture allusions and recurring themes, plus an unnecessary smattering of scatology. It's classic King, brutal, intensely suspenseful, an exhilarating affirmation of the human spirit. 1,250,000 first printing; major ad/promo; BOMC and QPB featured alternates; simultaneous audiocassette and CD, read by Anne Heche.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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