The Forbidden Land

The Forbidden Land

Betty Levin

A young woman who risks solitude and danger to escape a life of servitude.

The uncles want new, unflawed infants to take the place of the births that have failed. Willow notices the eyes of the uncles following her while she performs her daily tasks. The uncles are already sorting out which of them should father the next child.

But Willow has other plans. She is building a boat out of reeds, which she’ll use to escape from the People of the Singing Seals. She feels as if her whole life has been a preparation for the launching.

When the boat is destroyed, Willow has no alternative but to head inland. Against the advice of her friends, Crab and Thistle, Willow follows the path of her mentor, Great Mother, who was banished into the forbidden land before she could finish teaching Willow their people’s Story. Accompanied only by a wild dog, Willow embarks on a journey that will bring her a new life … or death in the wilderness.

Set in a stark post-apocalyptic world, The Forbidden Land tells the story of a young woman who risks solitude and danger to escape a life of servitude, drudgery, and bleakness.


  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Grades: 9 - 12
  • Pages: 134

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Recent Reviews

Themes examined in this novel include the reconciliation of friendship with independence and the obligation to challenge falsity in word and deed. This exciting read can stand on its own but will also appeal to readers of the first book and of Lois Lowry’s Giver and companions.

—Kirkus Reviews

In this trim novel set in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world, a young girl seeks to escape her narrow destiny, preferring the unknown (and possibly fatal) to the clear options before her....Levin uses each word carefully, slowly unveiling a world, several generations after tragedy, where the people have been thrown back into a primitive, brutal existence....The resilience and courage of this one girl, who has little to base her optimism on other than a nebulous awareness that there can be worse things than a quick death, is intricately described, and the unwillingness of those around her to risk change is all the more stark by contrast. Sci-fi fans might first find this a little outside of their usual realms, but they will appreciate the subtly futuristic tale that exists under the seemingly ancient setting; survival-story fans will just applaud Willow’s grit and determination.

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


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