2012 Recommended books

Into That Forest by Louis Nowra

Into That Forest

Five words from the blurb: girls, lost, wild, Tasmania, tigers

Into That Forest is a powerful book about two girls who find themselves alone in the wilderness after a tragic accident. Lost in the dense forests of Tasmania, they are cold and hungry; but their lives are saved by a Tasmanian tiger. They develop a relationship with a pair of these wonderful creatures, learning to hunt and communicate with them. Over time they begin to forget their human past, developing the posture and expressions of the tigers. This book does a fantastic job of questioning what makes us human and how close we are to being wild animals.  


Tasmanian tigers are large, carnivorous marsupials. I knew nothing about them before reading this book, but the atmospheric descriptions brought them to life. By the end I felt I completely understood the behaviour of these animals. They were thought to have become extinct in 1936, but recent discoveries indicate that there may be a small population surviving in remote regions. I hope that this is the case. 

The two girls were fantastic characters, each with their own unique personality. I loved the way they had different reactions to the situations they faced. It all felt very realistic and I felt immense empathy for them both throughout. 

The book was narrated in a halting dialect. It took a few pages to become used to this style, but it quickly became natural:

There were no reason to remember English any more. Words were no use to us when we were talking to the tigers, it were much easier to use our own language of grunts, growls, yawns, snuffles, coughing, looking, staring….Me parents, well, they just slowly slipped out of me mind. They were like dreams, not real people.

My only problem with this book was the small section towards the end involving the ship. I can see why it was included, but I felt that much of the emotional power of the text was lost over this section and I wish it hadn’t been included. Luckily this episode was brief and book quickly returned to its fantastic plot, finishing with appropriate power and sentiment.  

This book had me gripped from beginning to end. I loved the originality of the story and the way it introduced me to the lives of these half-forgotten creatures.  Highly recommended.


Has anyone read anything else written by Louis Nowra?

Was it as good as this one? 




20 replies on “Into That Forest by Louis Nowra”

Sandy, Yes, it’s a very good score for me. It means it will be one of my favourite books of the year. I think you’ll enjoy it so I hope you can get hold of a copy.

I’m very intrigued by this book thanks to your review. I knew Tasmania had several animals unique to it, but not sure if I’ve heard of the Tasmanian tiger specifically – but perhaps that it is because it was thought to be extinct for so long.

Sounds like a great book and one I need to add to my pile.

Funnily enough, the small village I grew up in on the south-east coast of Victoria was rumoured to have a Tasmanian tiger living in it. As a joke someone anonymously put up a sign at the entrance to the town which said “Thylacine crossing” — when the council took it down it kept popping back up. A local no doubt having a bit of a joke.

There’s lots of fascination and intrigue as to whether the tiger is really extinct: in the mid-1990s I interviewed a man (for the local paper) researching sightings etc. And there’s plenty of non-fiction books too — if you search for “Tasmanian Tiger” on Amazon dozens of titles pop up!

Kim, What a great story! Such a shame the council kept removing the sign.

I hope someone finds real evidence these animals still exist – they sound so different from anything else. And, yes, you do need to add this to your pile. I think you’ll LOVE it!

Awesome! I’ve always wanted to read more about the tasmanian tiger (thylacine) but haven’t gotten around to those books on my list. Another one to add to it now. I do hope I can find this. I also had a fascination in the past with stories of children-raised-by-wolves, this sounds so much alike. Love the cover image, too.

Sadly the likelihood of a relect population surviving is virtually zero, despite the number of unconfirmed sightings since 1936, including the most recent in Nov 2017 purporting to show video footage which is very indistinct when compared to the recognisable animals in the same footage.
However, be that as it may, the book sounds interesting and I shall seek out a copy for my grandchildren as we (almost) all live in Tasmania at the moment.

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