Reasons She Goes to the Woods is disconcerting. Its main character Pearl is just not a nice girl, that is to say, she might be downright evil. It is very clear that she is strongminded but has no idea about boundaries. At first she just bullies her little brother and friends, than it becomes apparant that she is slowly but surely helping her mother get admitted to the psychiatric ward. Pearl hates her mother and dotes on her father in a way society would not condone. One wonders though whether Pearl is to blame for everything. It is pretty clear that her mother hates her as well and does not raise her in a sound way; it is also clear that her father only has eyes for the mental sickness of his wife and does not see how this is affecting his young daughter. Pearl has problems with boundaries, unfortunately there is no one around who is willing to help. Davies never makes it clear which came first: Pearl being evil and taking it out on her mother (and in this way driving her literally mad) or Pearl being driven to evil by her mentally unstable mother. It is clear though that things are getting out of hands. At the end both mother and daughter end up in pain.
Davies had intensified the topic of her novel by working with very strict boundaries. She has divided her book into some 125 chapters each consisting of exactly one page. She forces herself to write concise and to the point, she manages to be very poetic at the same time. The scenes in which Pearl seeks refuge in the woods are written beautifully and are almost like poetry.
I did not particularly like Pearl, I did pity her though, her loneliness practically oozed from the pages and I found it hard to accept that no one came to her help. There are points in the novel where she shows that she is a mere lonely girl desperately craving attention but going about it in the wrong way.
Davies has written a beautiful and gripping novel which forces you to rethink about the facts that she presents. There are no absolute truths in Reasons She Goes to the Woods.