"Be incredible!" That's the advice Teresa Rae Wood gives the
listeners of her popular local radio show, Modern Pioneers!, a kind
of hippie Praire Home Companion. Teresa has taken the advice to
heart in her own life. As a teen mother and abused wife, she escaped
with her two children to rural Minnesota, fell in love with a local
carpenter, and raised good kids, Claire and Joshua. Then, at only
38, she receives the devastating news that she is gravely ill. In
just a few weeks, she is gone.
The award-winning writer Cheryl Strayed creates from this
shattering experience a novel that reviewers have called "an
unforgettable read" and "a hauntingly beautiful story" that
"shimmers with a humane grace."
Infused with compassion and surprising humor, Torch takes a
refreshingly unsentimental view of a family reeling from crisis.
Claire drops out of college to devote herself to keeping her
mother's memory alive back home. Joshua drifts out of high school
and into trouble, keeping his grief silently private. Suddenly
thrown into adulthood, they struggle to figure out how to connect in
this new, unthinkable situation. Their one remaining ballast is
Teresa's gentle common-law husband, Bruce. When Bruce announces news
of his own plans, it comes as a shock not only to Claire and Joshua
but also to the townspeople who have watched this unusual family
grow and have come to love them.
Cheryl Strayed has a deep appreciation for the shifting rhythms
between siblings and parents and for the beautiful terrors of
learning how to keep living. The wonderful characters in Torch come
alive and stay with you long after the novel ends.
Strayed's characters are real and lovable, even as they fail themselves and each other; even tertiary players feel fully realized. Though the subject is sad, the novel is not without humor; it shimmers with a humane grace.
Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson
First--novelist Strayed shows a deep appreciation for the rhythms of small-town life, capturing the sense of community, the struggle to earn a living, and also the disdain for "city apes."
Library Journal - Joy Humphrey
Starred Review. Strayed's descriptions of her characters' lives, where and how they live, what they remember, and what they wish to forget ring true and clear and make this novel an unforgettable read; highly recommended.
Starred Review. A hauntingly beautiful story written with tenderness and endowed with true insights into the frailty of relationships.
In language that's lyrical and haunting, Cheryl Strayed writes about bliss and loss, about the kind of grace that startles and transforms us in ordinary moments.
Strayed writes fierce truths about how we live, [with] compassion, humor, and uncanny precision. We need her.
Elizabeth Berg Torch is a deeply compelling, wonderfully crafted story about a journey into, through, and past grief . . . I loved the honesty of this novel, the way it looked at every aspect of loss and recovery -- the pain, the joy, the absurdity, the anger, the despair, the hope, and the great beauty -- without ever holding back.
Susan Richards Shreve
We know these characters so well and with such intricate understanding that their lives belong to us in a way that is the rare gift of fiction and a particular triumph of Strayed's wise and beautiful novel.
Big-hearted, keen-eyed, lyrical, precise, possessed of a genuine love for her characters, Strayed reminds us in every line that if defeat and despair are part of human experience, so are kindness, patience, and transcendence. This book is a wonderful and heartening accomplishment.
Born in western
Pennsylvania in 1968, Strayed spent
most of her formative yearsfrom the
age of five until her
mid-twentiesin Minnesota. Torch
takes place in the fictional town of
Midden, Minnesota, based on her
hometown of McGregor. "It's my
literary landscape; my spiritual
home," she says. "No matter how far
I wander, I often travel back to
Minnesota when I sit down to write."
Before turning to her first novel, Strayed wrote a number of essays, one of which is titled "Heroin/e" and was
included in Best American Essays
(2000). It tells of her own experiences
with her mother's cancer (her mother, like Teresa in Torch,
died in her forties when Cheryl was
in her early 20s) and her subsequent
battle with drugs.
Filled with laugh-out-loud humor, struggles, triumphs, and plenty of midnight trips to the fridge, Good Grief is a funny, wise, and heartbreakingly poignant novel from one of fiction's freshest and most exciting new voices.
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...