Not Out of the Woods

Debra Galant points to the view from Route 10 through Essex County as a stark reminder that the state’s green spaces are becoming extinct.

The Glen Ridge resident takes a comic approach to the value of land in her first novel, Rattled (St. Martin’s Press, $21.95), set in the fictitious Burlington County municipality of Hebron Township. The story follows Heather Peters, a materialistic suburban mom, who moves to a new McMansion development only to find a rattlesnake—an endangered species protected by the state—slithering about. It turns out the entire subdivision was illegally built on rattlesnake habitat, forcing Heather to square off against developers and the animal-lover lobby.

“The book is really about this sort of Darwinistic climate in which we’re all fighting to claim turf,” Galant says. “Everyone feels entitled to it.”

Her inspiration for the book came from a 2002 newspaper column that Galant wrote about the threat to the endangered timber rattlesnake in Evesham Township in Burlington County. “I thought it was a hoot that the rattlesnake was even a protected species in New Jersey,” she says.

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