BookBrowse Reviews Torch by Cheryl Strayed

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Torch by Cheryl Strayed X
Torch by Cheryl Strayed
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2007, 336 pages

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The wonderful characters in Torch come alive and stay with you long after the novel ends. Debut Novel

From the book jacket: A family founders after a mother's death in this beautifully observed debut.  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.

Comment: 
As a teenage mother, Teresa and her two children fled her abusive husband and settled in rural Minnesota, where she fell in love with a local carpenter, raised two good kids, and became renowned for her decency and intelligence, and for her radio show, "Modern Pioneers".  Then, in her late thirties, with a teenage son, a daughter in college and a devoted common-law husband, she discovers she has terminal cancer, and dies shortly afterwards.  How her family deals with the loss of their linchpin forms the crux of this powerful debut novel.

The critics praise Strayed's use of language and her ability to describe the process of grief authentically (a knowledge that comes from first hand experience, see sidebar).   If you've appreciated books such as Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking or Lolly Winston's Good Grief, then Torch is likely to be a shoe-in for you.

"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." - Elizabeth Berg.

This review was originally published in February 2006, and has been updated for the January 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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