goes to the woods

Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies

Oneworld Publications (hardback), 2014  

249 pages

This is a library book borrowed from The Mitchell Library (


When she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.

Pearl can be very, very good. More often she is very, very bad. But she’s just a child, a mystery to all who know her. A little girl who has her own secret reasons for escaping to the nearby woods. What might those reasons be? And how can she feel so at home in the dark, sinister, sensual woods, a wonder of secrets and mystery?

Told in vignettes across Pearl’s childhood years, Reasons She Goes to the Woods is a nervy but lyrical novel about a normal girl growing up who is trying to be normal, even though she doesn’t know quite what normal is. 


Pearl is perched astride her father’s knee. Rain taps the front window and she can just make out, all along the wavering hedge, wet purple flowers that look just like miniature bunches of grapes. 


I really enjoyed Reasons She Goes to the Woods. I love the structure Davies uses. Pearl’s story is told in a series of one page vignettes. Each one has a heading (i.e. Pearl and her Father, A new thought or Opportunity). This works really well and I liked the way the story unfolds in Reasons She Goes to the Woods. Reasons She Goes to the Woods is a different sort of book. Davies offers something very different. There is no real structure or plot to speak of and character development is minimal. What Reasons She Goes to the Woods offers is a series of short and tantalising glimpses into the life of a girl trying to grow up. Many of Pearl’s experiences are familiar. Sibling rivalry with a brother she refers to as The Blob for many years. The making and breaking of friendships. First love and first heartache. In a series of beautifully written snapshots, Pearl goes through the trials and tribulations of growing up. What makes Pearl different is that there are hints her mother is mentally unstable which causes a lot of trauma. I think Reasons She Goes to the Woods is perfect in this format. If Davies had chosen a more traditional style all the beauty and tenderness would be lost. I loved the way Davies effortlessly blends the light and dark in Pearl’s life.





The Bear by Claire Cameron


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