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Paperback Torch Book

ISBN: 0345805615

ISBN13: 9780345805614


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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

In her debut novel, the bestselling author of Wild weaves a searing and luminous tale of a family's grief after unexpected loss. "Work hard. Do good. Be incredible " is the advice Teresa Rae Wood shares with the listeners of her local radio show, Modern Pioneers , and the advice she strives to live by every day. She has fled a bad marriage and rebuilta life with her children, Claire and Joshua, and their caring stepfather, Bruce. Their love for each...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

couldn't even finish the book

I love the style Strayed writes but she seems to write about her mom for therapeutic reasons and I find it be a a drag.

Debut novel deftly explores shattering impact of unexpected death on family

The paperback version of Cheryl Strayed's complex and moving debut novel, "Torched," contains a revealing conversation with the author. In it, Strayed laments the fact that "in contemporary literary's writing must never be sentimental, which often results in writing that lacks sentiment entirely." With extraordinary sensitivity, "Torch" explores the grief, pain and confusion that accompany the unexpected death of a family member. This is a deeply felt novel, one which features characters whose anguish is palpable, whose coping mechanisms are far from perfect and whose personalities are indelibly stamped by loss. Fleeing an abusive marriage, Teresa Rae Woods lands in tiny Midden, Minnesota, impoverished, jobless and saddled with the responsibility of raising her two children. Resolute and resourceful, she slowly makes a life for herself, and in the process, discovers the true love of her life, an admirable carpenter, Bruce. Literally taking the advice she dispenses on her weekly radio show, Teresa words hard, does good and tries to "be incredible." Her exceptionally bright daughter, Claire and her alienated son Joshua have forged a profoundly healthy relationship with Bruce, who is everything to the two of them less being their legal father. Then, at age thirty-eight, Teresa succumbs to cancer, and, predictably, those who love here most are staggered with the near-exquisite pain of loss. The centrifugal forces of grief splinter the family; each of the three survivors staggers under the weight of such an unsettling loss. Through various stages, Bruce, Claire and Joshua come to grips with the death of a loving partner or parent, and their journey towards understanding, acceptance and health is gripping. The greatest strength of "Torch" is Cheryl Strayed's probing how each character summons the strength to endure. Hers is a messy novel, elegantly written and deeply felt. Her characters lose track of family history, turn into themselves and find themselves washed ashore -- shipwrecks of life. There is not a single note of falsehood in Stayed's writing; the terrible strain of mourning results in awful decisions and sundered bonds. Despite the fact that the three survivors share the most cruel of bonds -- the death of the family's anchor -- not one of them can summon the ability to reach out to the other. Their resulting loneliness increases their pain. In part autobiographical, "Torch" took some ten years to write. Its treatment of cancer, post-death dislocation and our capacity to renew ourselves after trauma distinguish this honorable novel. Cheryl Strayed has accomplished her goal; she has crafted a work of great emotional impact, a work of art that elicits both thought and feeling.

authentic and lovely

In her debut novel, Cheryl Strayed demonstrates not only an adept and graceful touch with language, but also a hard-won understanding of the impact of grief and its resonance within a family. Though a work of fiction, the nuanced gestures she lends to her characters imbue the story with such reality that I immediately felt these were people I knew; people not unlike myself. Specifically, the love-hate, push-pull, typically antagonistic relationship between late-stage teens and their mother (and her equally wrenching and awkward attempts to overcome it) was so precisely limned as to virtually resurrect that young person in myself. From a technical perspective, that Cheryl managed to convey such a gamut of emotions in lean, concise prose is a demonstration of her sizable talent. For all of these reasons, and as a well-versed reader, I highly recommend it as a beautiful literary adventure. As a grief counselor, I further recommend it as a gifted portrait of the ways in which something as typically heartbreaking as a familial death can reverberate throughout one's life.



I'm so glad I read this book

To be honest, I almost didn't read this novel because I thought it would be too sad to bear. As it turns out, I was half-right: it was too sad, it was breathtakingly sad, but I could not bear to stop reading it. On its face, the plot is simple: a husband, son, and a daughter stumble, brokenhearted, toward the moment of Teresa Rae Wood's death and then spin, brokenhearted, away from that moment, out into their separate lives and separate griefs. But there is nothing simple about Strayed's achievement, which is to render moot concepts like plot. The amazing truth is that, while I read this book, I never for a single second thought to myself, "This is a story. These are characters." I thought instead, from the first page, "This is a world. These are people." And they are people I needed to stick by through every brutal second of Teresa Rae Wood's dying and all the brutal, beautiful, dislocated, intensely intimate days and months that follow her dying. In their frank efforts to survive awful loss, Bruce, Claire, and Josh cling to some people, push others away, behave badly, nobly, selfishly, gorgeously, and they don't so much emerge from grief, as they manage to forge lives in which grief can coexist with hope and continuing. I'm so glad I read this book.

Unique new voice in fiction with an incredible tale of a family in crisis

Author Cheryl Strayad (who has published short stories but, to my knowledge, NEVER a full length novel) proves her talent once again by creating an incredibly haunting tale of a family in crisis. I loved every member of this family, flaws and all. Teresa, the matriarch of the group, is clearly the heart of this family and every bit of her life reflects her love of domestic pursuits. She even has a show which bears some resemblance to Prairie Home Companion combined with Martha Stewart, a show which promotes the creativity that can come with getting back to basics and doing things from scratch.... even in today's rushed world where such pursuits may not seem worthwhile, where wool sweaters can be bought with far less time and money than knitting them. As Teresa battles cancer, the family is ripped apart at the seams, each one coping (or going into full blown denial) in separate ways. Claire, the daughter, who is intelligent and in college, drops out of school - while her brother takes another path. I don't want to reveal ALL the details because readers deserve to discover the special voice and style of this writer for themselves. In spite of the seemingly dark subject matter, the book is touching and heartbreaking. I simply urge you to get a copy and discover a writer who hasn't become famous yet...but deserves more notice.
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