"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.
She ached. As if her spine were a zipper and someone had come up behind
her and unzipped it and pushed his hands into her organs and squeezed, as
if they were butter or dough, or grapes to be smashed for wine. At other
times it was something sharp like diamonds or shards of glass engraving her
bones. Teresa explained these sensations to the doctor the zipper, the
grapes, the diamonds, and the glasswhile he sat on his little stool with
wheels and wrote in a notebook. He continued to write after she'd stopped
speaking, his head cocked and still like a dog listening to a sound that was
distinct, but far off. It was late afternoon, the end of a long day of tests, and
he was the final doctor, the real doctor, the one who would tell her at last
what was wrong.
Teresa held her earrings in the palm of one handdried violets pressed between tiny panes of glassand put them on, still getting dressed after hours of going from one room to the ...
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 ...
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