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The Wild Truth Hardcover – November 11, 2014
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“One of the driving points of The Wild Truth is that [McCandless’s] famous, ultimately fatal journey of adventure and discovery was motivated in large part by a desire to escape his parents…Carine’s new book fleshes out the causes of Chris’s actions with much more detail and impact.” (Outsideonline.com)
“A moving and revelatory saga.” (Boston Globe)
“The Wild Truth is a moving narrative of domestic abuse, grief and survival, and for the perspective and revelations it contains, an essential additon to the Into the Wild story.” (Newsweek)
“Fiercely honest and gripping. . . . She honestly shares her successes and failures in work and relationships as she comes to the realization that she has tried to find in adult life what was lacking in her childhood: worth, strength, and unconditional love.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Wild Truth is an important book on two fronts: It sets the record straight about a story that has touched thousands of readers, and it opens up a conversation about hideous domestic violence hidden behind a mask of prosperity and propriety.” (NPR.org)
“Helping her readers become more familiar with the overwhelming burdens caused by dysfunctional parents is one of The Wild Truth’s major achievements. [McCandless] touches each of us…[we] have a better sense of what drove her brother and compelled her to write about her own harrowing history.” (Anchorage Press)
“Powerful . . . gripping to read.” (Examiner.com)
“A powerful book…For me, reading it was like finding a crucial missing word in the middle of a crossword puzzle: once those letters were filled in, the answers to the blank spaces around them also cascaded into place.” (Eva Holland, Vela Magazine)
From the Back Cover
A New York Times Bestseller
"The Wild Truth is an important book on two fronts: It sets the record straight about a story that has touched thousands of readers, and it opens up a conversation about hideous domestic violence hidden behind a mask of prosperity and propriety."–NPR.org
In the more than twenty years since the body of Chris McCandless was discovered in the wilds of Alaska, his spellbinding story has captivated millions who have either read Jon Krakauer's iconic Into the Wild or seen Sean Penn's acclaimed film of the same name.
And yet, only one person has truly understood what motivated Chris's unconventional decision to forsake his belongings, abandon his family, and embrace the harsh wilderness. In The Wild Truth, his beloved sister Carine McCandless finally provides a deeply personal account of the many misconceptions about Chris, revealing the truth behind his fateful journey while sharing the remarkable details of her own.
Exposing the dark reality that existed behind the McCandless's seemingly idyllic home in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Carine details a violent home life, one where both parents manipulated the truth about a second family—a deception that pushed Chris over the edge and set the stage for his willing departure into the wild. And though he cut off all family ties, Carine understood—through their indelible bond and some cryptic communication—what Chris was seeking.
This understanding, kept under wraps for years as Carine struggled to maintain a relationship with her parents, now comes to spectacular light in the pages of The Wild Truth. In the decades since Chris's death, Carine and her half-siblings have come together to find their own truth and build their own beauty in his absence. In each other, they've found absolution, just as Chris found absolution in the wild before he died.
Beautiful and haunting, told with candor and heartbreaking insight, The Wild Truth presents a man the world only thought they knew—and the sister who has finally found redemption in sharing the rest of their story.
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Carine is not the easiest person to like; there are shades of her mother’s willfulness and self-righteousness in her actions, and she can seem more self-absorbed than self-reflective. Because she and Chris lost contact just at the point his story gets interesting, she can offer little insight into the man he was becoming, she can only reveal the boy he was.
Carine has my sympathy. Her life hasn't been easy and to live with constant reminder's of her brother's legacy and tragic end has got to be painful. But I wished the book would've kept its focus on Chris. This book is really about Carine's journey, her relationship with her parents, Chris, her siblings and her ex-lovers. She spends a great deal of time uncomfortably justifying and defending her own life and legacy, as she continually pats herself on the back or holds herself up as a pillar for us all to emulate. She just skirts the edges of sanctimony, never quite going over the edge. The writing is clunky, phrases such as "email missives" when just "email" would've worked are peppered throughout the book. I found myself skimming whole passages where she went into great detail about something like her daughter playing with, uh, a ribbon, I think, I don't know, I checked out at that part.
What really redeemed the book, for me, was strictly personal. There were scenes and recountings of conversations with Walt and Billie that were note-for-note perfect for ones I experienced with my own family that made me gasp. Plus, I've been fascinated by Chris' story for years, as I've felt he's a kindred spirit. I, too, have wandered around in nature, alone, searching, drinking in the peace.
I think this book will be interesting to anyone who has survived an abusive childhood or to those who are Christopher McCandless completists. Don't expect to be spellbound or to be absorbed in a book of great literary merit. Don't expect to learn too much about Chris' story, either. Take it for what it is: A very sad story told by a woman who has survived hardship and who seems to still be coming to terms with it all.