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
The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation.Read more...
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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
The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Penn's inspirational film by the same name further skyrocketed Chris McCandless to global fame. But the real story of Chris's life and his journey has not yet been told - until now. The missing pieces are finally revealed in The Wild Truth, written by Carine McCandless, Chris's beloved and trusted sister. Featured in both the book and film, Carine has wrestled for more than twenty years with the legacy of her brother's journey to self-discovery, and now tells her own story while filling in the blanks of his. Carine was Chris's best friend, the person with whom he had the closest bond, and who witnessed firsthand the dysfunctional and violent family dynamic that made Chris willing to embrace the harsh wilderness of Alaska. Growing up in the same troubled household, Carine speaks candidly about the deeper reality of life in the McCandless family. In the many years since the tragedy of Chris's death, Carine has searched for some kind of redemption. In this touching and deeply personal memoir, she reveals how she has learned that real redemption can only come from speaking the truth.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-07-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Twenty years ago, Jon Krakauer wrote in Into the Wild the stunning story of Chris McCandless, a young man who walked into the Alaska wilderness and starved to death. At the time, Krakauer spoke with Chris’s sister, Carine, who allowed Krakauer to read Chris’s letters, but asked the author not to print them. Two decades later, in this fiercely honest and gripping memoir, Carine shares many of these letters and candidly reveals the harsh and violent family in which the two grew up. The siblings’ father constantly berated and physically abused his young wife, and, as young children, Chris and Carine comforted each other the best they could. “Our parents hurt us constantly, but they were our parents. We wanted to believe the warm moments showed who they genuinely were, not just another part of the show they put on.” Chris eventually found freedom when he took off on his own in the year following high school graduation, and before he entered Emory—his father demanded to know Chris’s plans for the summer, but Chris refused, making the threats fell empty. When Chris headed off on his post-college journey, he left Carine to cope with her parents, and to stake out her own life. In the end, this is Carine’s story. 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. (Nov.)
A sister speaks out
A few years ago, I taught Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild in a college freshman writing class. I thought the story of Chris McCandless, who turned his back on civilization to hike into the Alaskan wilderness, would resonate with undergraduates. Chris’ tragic journey may have ended with his death, but his quest for purity and adventure was inspirational. Or so I thought.
Apart from one lone hippie idealist, the other students condemned Chris for his selfishness: How could he turn his back on his parents after all they had done for him? As it turns out, many other readers felt the same way. But they didn’t know the whole story of the violent dysfunction that Chris was escaping in his bid for freedom. Now his sister, Carine McCandless, has written a brave and sensitive memoir that fills in the gaps.
In The Wild Truth, Carine depicts their father, Walt, as a violent, controlling abuser. While still married to his first wife, Marcia, he began an affair with Chris and Carine’s mother, Billie. Marcia had six children, and Billie had two—Chris and Carine were technically illegitimate. None of this was explained to Chris and Carine as children, though they spent time with their half-siblings.
But their father’s violence and their mother’s denial of it were perfectly clear. Although Chris tried to protect his little sister, there was no denying the level of physical, emotional and verbal abuse and manipulation in the house. Carine’s description of this dynamic is even-handed and the more horrific for it. And the manipulation continued after Chris’ death in the way Billie and Walt handled his revenue-generating afterlife.
Carine, writing with the full support of her siblings and Krakauer, has succeeded in bringing grace and truth back to her brother’s story.