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Following divorce, Fraser resolves to stay in the small mountain town where her son's father lives, but it soon proves too claustrophobic. She finds relief a world away in a small house up a winding road tucked so far into the forest one forgets it is technically still in town. It's in this small and remote forest house, both buffered and enveloped by endless wilderness, where she slowly rebuilds. The life she carves out for herself and son Dylan is harsh at times and lyrical at others. The physical landscape feeds her--with its trees and animals, firewood, barbed wire and rugged unforgiving demands--while her internal self brims over with favorite passages culled from beloved books...and also with immense guilt about pulling her son into the confusing and messy reality of divorce. Of course, it is complicated reflection, as our lives often are. No moment of reveling goes unpunished by self-reproach: how dare she be happy for the quiet afforded her when Dylan is with his dad. Is it okay to be happy? Shouldn't she be sadder? And her past is not past at all. Her history and the history of her family are very much alive in her, and memories crop-up unbidden, providing hints of explanation, that both prop her up and damn her. It is when all these gremlins hound her that she turns to what is outside her door. This is a literary gem for anyone who has navigated the treacherous waters of loss and rebuilt a life, for those who love an expanse of sky, and for those who carry books in their mind.
About the Author
Joelle Fraser graduated from the University of Hawaii and has MFAs from Eastern Washington University and the University of Iowa. A two-time MacDowell Fellow, Fraser's award-winning work has appeared in many literary journals, including Hawaii Pacific Review, High Desert Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Fourth Genre, Crazyhorse, Zyzzyva, and The Iowa Review. Her first book, The Territory of Men: a Memoir was published in 2002 by Random House, and Kirkus called it "a beautifully crafted debut," declaring that Fraser was "a writer worth keeping an eye on."
Praise for The Forest House
"[Fraser’s] poignant, heartbreaking struggle to find her way in a life she never planned to be living transcends her personal story to encompass all who find themselves at unexpected, and often lonely, crossroads . . . Her thoughtful, sincere, and generous chronicle will especially appeal to newly single parents.” Booklist
"Fraser soulfully evokes the year she spent in an isolated forest retreat recovering from the trauma of divorce and exploring the inner landscape of her heartA poignant study of gratitude for the simple life." Kirkus
"I turned to The Forest House every night before I went bed, wanting to drift off to sleep with the smell of the tall pines, the call of the ravens, the beauty of big skies coursing through my body, and wake up renewed, healed. As evocative and imagery-dense as poetry, The Forest House is the story of coming to life again after a devastating divorce, through silent communion with old-growth trees and investing love in the broken and homeless animals who grace her path. This is the story of a woman braving a courageous choiceto live in a way that feels trueset against a sensual verdant landscape. As redeeming and soul cleansing as a long walk through a welcoming forest."Alison Singh Gee, Where the Peacocks Sing: A Prince, a Palace and the Search for Home
"I adore The Forest House. It's a moving and tender sequel to her acclaimed first memoir, The Territory of Men. The harsh realities of her own life have made Fraser a compassionate observer and a resourceful mother in a wild beautiful place at the very edge of her world. Here at this unstable equilibrium of nature and civilization, of dissolution and reconstruction, she builds a fortress for herself and her young son. Here is a story about starting over from scratch and learning how to build a fragile life together without losing sight of all that is beautiful. A wise and sweet telling of a year in a little house in the forest." Andrew Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala