Patricia K. Lichen’s Kidnapping the Lorax is an eco-fiction book like no other, which makes sense because Patricia Lichen herself is rather unique. Few people can say they are a true pirate- Lichen was arrested for piracy in Peru while working with Greenpeace. The story begins with Walden, Fern, and Tracker (not their real names) finalizing their plans to kidnap Lacey Thurman, the Secretary of the Interior (code name: Lorax). The trio, an independent environmental group, nabs Lacey and takes her into the great woods of the Northwest and force her to learn first-hand exactly what she’ll be destroying if she signs a bill to allow logging. They believe that if Lacey could just see how much the woods have to offer, she’ll change her mind, so they give her a list of tasks that she must complete before they release her.
The trio doesn’t take into account the fact that a woman who has clawed her way to the top of the Washington “boy’s club” isn’t going to sit back and play the role of the obedient captive. Lacey challenges them at every turn before deciding to use the experience to further her own political ambitions.
I admit, I had some misgivings about the book when I started reading it. I’m not a fan of anything that glorifies kidnapping or violence to make a point or force someone to change their mind about something, not because it disturbs me personally, but because there are too many people out there who confuse fact and fiction, and would use something like this as a how-to book. But Lichen provided a sense of balance at the end of the book, making this more of a cautionary tale than a guidebook for would-be eco-kidnappers.
Although the four main characters play a vital role in driving the story, the true star is the forest itself. Lichen does a lovely job of imparting actual knowledge about the plants and animals that live in the Northwest forest, including little nuggets of wisdom about medicinal plants. She also adds in some great hardcore camping tips through the words of her characters. Admittedly, I’ll most likely never need to know how to, uh, use the facilities, in the forest because I’m not much of a camper (I love the idea of camping, but once it comes time to go to sleep, I miss my bed), but should I find myself stranded, at least now I know two ways to prevent a bear from eating my food.
The main characters had such vastly different personalities and created an interesting conflict. Fern is sweet and seems more than a little naive. Walden is clearly the mastermind, but his personality borders on that of a radical preacher. Tracker doesn’t have a whole lot of lines, and sometimes I forgot he was there, which I think was kind of the point. It’s easier to be an expert tracker when no one knows where you are or what you’re doing. Lacey, aka the Lorax, started out as a typical over-privileged twit, but slowly redeemed herself in subtle ways throughout the story. She remained a tough lady (don’t call her fiesty!), but some of her snobbish bravado diminished as time went by.
The end of the book had me a little confused. It seemed to come on suddenly, and I’m still not exactly sure what happened. The epilogue contains what I felt was the true lesson of the story, although I wont share it because I don’t want to spoil the ending. Let’s just say that, for all the research Walden claims he’s done on Lacey, he missed one very important detail. Lichen also provides some insightful discussion questions at the end of the book for group or individual reflection. I thought that was a nice touch.
Note- I received a free copy of Kidnapping the Lorax from the author for this review. As always, all my opinions are my own.