Review: A Girl Goes Into The Forest by Peg Alford Pursell

Having and wanting at the same time – that’s what it was to carry my daughter inside me. After, I was emptier than I could ever have imagined, I thought then. Then, when I thought I would have the chance to tell her one day.

A Girl Goes Into The Forest

Summary and Thoughts

Following her acclaimed debut, Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, award-winning author Peg Alford Pursell explores and illuminates love and loss in 78 hybrid stories and fables. A Girl Goes into the Forest immerses readers in the complex desires, contradictions, and sorrows of daughters, wives, and husbands, artists, siblings, and mothers.

In forests literal and metaphorical, the characters try, fail, and try again to see the world, to hear each other, and to speak the truth of their longings. Powerful, lyrical, and precise, Pursell’s stories call up a world at once mysterious and recognizable.

— Goodreads

Pursell shows admirable skill in these expertly crafted 76 short stories. Analyzing the relationships between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and various fraught family dynamics, Pursell uses lush descriptions and references to nature to make contemporary stories seem almost surreal and magical. I was debating what to rate these stories, as I found myself breezing apathetically to some, but completely spellbound by others. Pursell’s ability to create what reads like a slow burn within only a few pages is remarkable, her skill in tying in scene, with memory, and then introspection, constantly resulting in stories that simmer with emotion and end with a punch (without veering into the overly sentimental). I’ll definitely be picking this book up again and again in the future to map out how exactly Pursell is able to craft such impactful and memorable stories. The lack of consistency is the main deterrent to a higher star score, but I would certainly recommend trying out this this collection, as the gems inside are worth excavating for. Some of my particular favorites include:

  • “An Uncle”
  • “My Father and His Slim Beautiful Brunettes”
  • “The Woman in the Winter Storm”
  • “For All Time”
  • “Daylilles”
  • “Abandoning the Birds”
  • “Is There No One Who Listens?”
  • “You Can Do Anything”
  • “Wedding Gift”
  • “Love Carnival”
  • “Exposed”
  • “Keeping”
Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

Notable Reviews

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Star Rating


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