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  • Algonquin Books

Babe in the Woods

Julie Heffernan

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Memoirs, Age groups: children, Child & developmental psychology

From acclaimed painter Julie Heffernan, a wholly original and visually stunning four-color graphic work of autofiction about a young mother who-lost overnight on a hike with her infant son-experiences an extraordinary journey of memory, remorse, and rebirth that offers her a new way of seeing the world; for readers of Alison Bechdel and Roz Chast.

From acclaimed painter Julie Heffernan, a wholly original and visually stunning four-color graphic work of autofiction about a young mother who-lost overnight on a hike with her infant son-experiences an extraordinary journey of memory, remorse, and rebirth that offers her a new way of seeing the world; for readers of Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast, and Marjane Satrapi.

One summer day, a young artist with a newborn-sleep-deprived, desperate to escape her hot, cramped apartment and her oblivious husband-sets off on a hike in the country with her baby boy, Sam, strapped to her front and her senses fully attuned to the colors, the sounds, and the flora and fauna in the woods around her. During her journey, Julie reflects on her childhood, her parents, her marriage, and her path to becoming a painter. Her memories soon merge with the imaginative pictorial worlds she invents in her work, creating a glorious and perturbing narrative.

When Julie suddenly realizes that they are lost, with few supplies, as darkness begins to set in, she must come to terms with the sudden gravity of her situation and invent tools for coping. She then discovers her own resourcefulness: snacking on wild garlic and fixing a torn shoe; tucking herself and her baby into a cave for the night; climbing a tall tree for a better vantage point. Each step in the unknown terrain of the forest leads her deeper into a reckoning with survival and unresolved past issues. She invokes the struggles of painters like Artemesia Gentileschi, women's strength in Rubens' Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, and the plights of activists like Julia Butterfly Hill, illuminating how great art can be a vehicle for perspective-how it teaches us how to see, think, and navigate obstacles and wonders and find one's way out into a capacious and self-determined life.

Beautifully told and illustrated by an established fine painter whose work has been collected around the world, Julie Heffernan's Babe in the Woods is an extraordinary journey of memory, remorse, and rebirth, and a powerful lesson in trust in one's self, offering a new way of seeing for anyone who feels lost in the world.

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