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Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson
Our Lady of the Forest tells the story of Ann Holmes, a 16-year old girl who has run away from home after repeated rapes by her mother's boyfriend and two abortions. She lives in a tent in the woods, picking mushrooms and living off candy, marijuana, and anti-allergy medication. She's visited by the Virgin Mary who tells her to have a church built in the woods. After word of her visions circulates, crowds begin to assemble in the woods waiting for the spectacle of the next vision. Drawn into the frenzy is Ann's fellow mushroom picker, Carolyn, a local priest, and Tom Cross, an angry man whose life has fallen apart after an accident left his son a quadriplegic. David Guterson's novel tackles themes of religion, faith, and those who would profit from both. Book Magazine says, "By the end, we're left not with a vision of the extraordinary girl, but of the aspiring, ordinary faithful and their ardent longing to believe. And it is that longing, at the core of the novel, that makes Our Lady of the Forest both riveting and remarkable."