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3.5 out of 5 stars
21
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 19 March 2015
well worth reading - unusual format, really captures a girl growing up - brought many of my memories to the surface
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on 21 May 2014
The Reason I wanted to read Reasons She Goes To the Woods is because I read True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies a few years ago and very much enjoyed it. I have been waiting for Deborah to publish another novel ever since I finished reading True Things About Me.
Reasons She Goes To the Woods is about a very naughty little girl named Pearl. The things does to her baby brother will make you cringe and feel totally sorry for her baby brother having a sister like Pearl.
Pearl bosses her friends about being very cruel to them and making them do things that are totally gross.
As you read on you are willing the characters to say no to Pearl and to say no I am not doing that.
But no one will stand up to her and her friends just seem to do exactly whatever Pearl says
.Pearl's mother is a strange mother and pearl does not seem to like her own mother, but she adores her father.
I totally loved all the characters and whole story by Deborah Kay Davies. I cannot wait for Deborah's next novel. I hope that all readers who read this story enjoy it as much as I have.
from ireadnovels.wordpress.com
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I know I shouldn’t review this book by looking at other reviews, but it’s difficult not to. It’s really interesting to see some of the words used to describe this book, but even more interesting to see the comments made about Pearl, the little girl whose world we enter into in this novel. Experience tells me that some children are cruel to each other, and bully each other, that children feel jealousy, and love and that they feel these things deeply enough for their echoes to linger into adulthood; it also suggests that their world views, and sense of propriety are limited, usually to (or by) direct experience. Pearl seems typical in this respect and I admire the fact that Davies has chosen to portray her whims and wickedness with such candour.

If Pearl is perhaps more confused (horrid/evil?) than the “average” child, whoever they might be, there are at least some mitigating factors: a newborn sibling (aka “The Blob”), a mother who has significant mental health issues, and a loving father who is well-meaning enough but appears increasingly unable to cope. Again, to me, this seems a plausible slice of reality; dysfunctional being the new “normal”. Pearl is a wicked child at times, but not devoid of sympathy when placed in the wider context of the family situation in which she is growing up.

Davies has chosen to write this book in page long vignettes, each separately titled. She gives us a different take on the standard formula of the novel which I think works well. There is some jumping about in time, but the story doesn’t lose coherence because of this, and the overall reading experience is easy with enough of a “conclusion” for it to be fulfilling. The classic oedipal themes explored help to create this comfortable narrative arc within the more experimental structure of the novel. The prose is concise, conveying descriptive information of the sights and smells and textures of childhood; the woods are a place of worms, leaves, roots and water; everything is connected with the senses: this style makes the story feel as though it is experienced by the reader rather than being told to us.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed this novel, even though I admire the risks it is taking both thematically and stylistically. The character of Pearl is written in a way that is going to be divisive as she acts out a more extreme version of the desires and manipulative whiles that every child is subject to. Reasons She Goes to the Woods offers us an unsettling look at growing up through the eyes of a girl who is struggling to control, discover and understand her place in the world.
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VINE VOICEon 5 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Told in a series of vignettes, each no longer than a page, Reasons She Goes to the Woods charts episodes from the childhood of Pearl, a 'normal' girl. I would question what's considered normal here because she is more often than not bad, cruel or violent than good, kind or nice. She certainly does certain things that I'd consider as normal, especially when she plays outdoors, whether it be in her garden alone or with her kid brother or one or more of her friends, or in the titular woods behind her house, and there is good reason for her finding contentment in her own world, as an escape from her home life and to keep herself occupied. But she can do things which make for uncomfortable reading and are downright vicious and nasty and you have to wonder where that comes from. You do get a sense for why she might be more bad than good as a result of her parents' treatment of her, in particular her mother's, but the mother is battling demons, only one of which is her daughter. I didn't get much of a sense of Pearl's father and really wanted him to be a stronger character, given how much Pearl looks up to him and adores him. But Pearl's mistreatment or neglect at home only goes part of the way towards explaining her behaviour sometimes and I don't know if it ever excused it. I don't think the author ever set out to excuse or explain it either but there is a lot here that makes for uncomfortable reading simply because it isn't put into a wider context because of the way the book is structured.

I liked the idea behind that structure - I think a lot of people, not just children, will hold memories in a series of kaleidoscopic episodes that don't always fall into chronological order when remembered, and that is what happens here. I believe we're rarely told Pearl's age, although you can try and work it out from events in her life and what her concerns are to a certain extent, but overall that didn't help me when I was wondering if the behaviour she exhibits was the behaviour of a 'normal' child or not. It's hard to say when you only catch glimpses of that child and don't know the age of that child at the time. All we know is that she's a bright girl albeit one who sees school as fairly pointless until revision time. Admittedly, the reader can gain a better sense of Pearl and her family situation as the book progresses and more of the episodes build up in layers upon each other but there is still a lot that is left unexplained or just out of reach and it all ends rather abruptly. Another interesting and challenging read from Deborah Kay Davies.
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on 23 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The 121 page-long chapters which comprise "Reasons She Goes to the Woods" create an unforgettable portrait of its central character: Pearl, a little girl who worships her father and despises her mother. Deborah Kay Davies's evocation of the landscape of childhood is instantly familiar and it is this familiarity combined with Pearl's particular pathologies which makes the novel so disturbing. Davies marshals her material superbly, leading the reader, page by page, to a satisfying conclusion.
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on 8 May 2014
Pearl being the name of the main protagonist. Pearl is a combination of Damien from the Omen and Lolita and has what you would call an electra complex - being in competition with her mother for the attentions of her father. So far, so disturbed. Now, I realise as a grown woman, the trials and tribulations of girlhood are now far behind me but this sgtory is in no way describing an average girlhood. I don't know many little girls who would jump off a tree in the full knowledge and willingness to break their leg. Parade around in a bikini for their father and push their mother into oncoming traffic. This is beyond any "acting up" by a child I've ever heard of.

Most disappointingly however, is that the woods themselves feature only fleetingly. Sure, we know Pearl goes down there now and then but the book largely revolves around her increasingly disturbing behaviour at home and with friends. I just didn't get any real sense of why they were so special to her. I think the writer missed a trick here and it could have added so much to the book. As it is, it's just a story, told in vignettes of a problem child. This is not a tale of a bratty child growing up, it's a tale of a severely disturbed child.
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VINE VOICEon 8 September 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Told in a series of vignettes, Reasons She Goes to the Woods follows the childhood of Pearl, a spiky, feisty and increasingly manipulative little girl. I wasn't entirely sure if the vignette format would allow me to become immersed in the character's worlds, but I quickly found that the short sharp views into Pearl's world had a way of capturing your attention, and leaving you wanting more. Deborah Kay Davies describes Pearl as a 'normal' little girl. I'm not sure how much of this is true. Certainly I recognised much of the independence and gutsiness of a tomboy in her, and I also found her more violent, manipulative tendencies, particularly where concerns her close friends somewhat reminiscent of my own experiences with childhood bullies. However, as the story processes these childish tendencies develop into something more unsettling. I felt that there were paralells to be drawn between the progression of Pearl's mother's condition and Pearl's own behaviour. Certainly Pearl's neglect at home goes some way to explaining some of these characteristics, but I felt that there was much that was left unexplained in this, and that Pearl's relationship with her mother, in particular, occasionally crossed the line into the downright sinister. Her relationship with her father, which at times took on oedipal overtones, also made for unsettling reading at times, as Pearl crossed the boundary between daughterly devotion into something else. Despite this however, she proves to be an engaging central character, and Kay Davies' writes beautifully. Overall I found this to be an engaging and compelling read.
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A great quirky book. Davies’ imagination is quite extraordinary. Each short chapter is a title and one page of text. The protagonist, Pearl, is fatally eccentric and honest. She has a younger brother whom she calls The Blob and both mistreats but also protects, tearing ‘a wet tufty clump of scalp’ from her brother’s tormenter and puts ‘the clump in her shorts pocket’. It is the latter detail that is so clever.

The range of characters is endless as are Pearl’s actions and repartee: the boy with one overlarge eye staring at her. ‘Why don’t you look at me, he asks. Am I too ugly. Yes, Pearl answers.’ Pearl and her gang have there special game of ‘Kick, Kiss or Torture.’ And much much more.

It is Pearl’s unswerving honesty and wayward imagination that amuses and fascinates. And there are moments of absolute brutality, notably to her best friend Fee, and her increasingly mad mother.

Pearl’s eccentricity eventually segues into a story of madness and an utterly brilliant last line.
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2015
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This ‘novel’ is immediately notable in that it plays out as a series of discrete one-page episodes instead of chapters 'proper'… a sequential run of little vignettes, each detailing the experiences that make up the heroine Pearl’s childhood. Taken together, this is the story of her chaotic journey towards adolescence, told out in a series of miniatures. This approach works because Pearl is a difficult child to say the least… occasionally very nasty, psychotic perhaps (the reader is left to decide)… and her life story suits being depicted disjointed ‘episodes’ because they somehow capture the vividness of her behaviours. But the solitary-page approach also feels fragmented at times, because it’s a fairly restrictive way of telling a fulsome story, especially given the weighty subject matter at the heart of the book: the amorality of children in their nascent sexuality. Engrossing nevertheless, and the end result is a highly original, complex portrait of growing-up.
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VINE VOICEon 29 January 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is terrific. Original, offbeat, short and bitter-sweet. It's increasingly difficult to do anything interesting with the closed formula of the modern novel but Deborah Kay Davies pulls it off admirably with chapters that are more like snippets from a dream and a brilliantly realised sense of growing menace. For anyone looking for something slightly more challenging than the latest 'Gone Girl' rip-off, this is highly recommended.
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