Chelsea Cain, author of The Night Season and Heartsick "A candid, inspiring narrative of the authors brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self," Kirkus Reviews, starred review (12/19/2011). She worked the day shift at a factory that manufactured plastic containers capable of holding highly corrosive chemicals and brought the rejects home. People (4 stars) An addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it. Hope Edelman, author of The Possibility of Everything and Motherless Daughters Smart, funny, and often sublime, Wild has something for everyonea fight for survival in the wilderness, a bad girls quest for redemptionall in the hands of a brilliant and evocative writer. By then we lived in a small town an hour outside of Minneapolis in a series of apartment complexes with deceptively upscale names: Mill Pond and Barbary Knoll, Tree Loft and Lake Grace Manor. She waited tables at a place called the Norseman and then a place called Infinity, where her uniform was a black T-shirt that said go for it in rainbow glitter across her chest.
The cumulative welling up I experienced during Wild was partly a response to that too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes. At which point, at long last, there was the actual doing it, quickly followed by the grim realization of what it meant to do it, followed by the decision to quit doing it because doing it was absurd and pointless and ridiculously difficult and far more than I expected doing it would be and I was profoundly unprepared to do it. The exhaustion and the deprivation; the cold and the heat; the monotony and the pain; the thirst and the hunger; the glory and the ghosts that haunted me as I hikedbeleven hundred miles from the Mojave Desert to the state of Washington by myself. Shed planted marigolds around her garden to keep bugs away instead of using pesticides. As the elevator car lifted, my mother reached out to tug at my pants, rubbing the green cotton between her fingers proprietarily. I was twenty-two, the same age she was when shed been pregnant with me. She whispered it and hollered it, hissed it and crooned it. We played tag and red light green light and charades by the apartment mail- boxes that you could open only with a key, waiting for checks to arrive. She loved us more than all the named things in the world.
When my mother had done so, she climbed onto a padded table with white paper stretched over it. Shed waited me out until my head fell into her palms and I took a breath and came back to life. I thought about my older sister, Karen, and my younger brother, Leif. My prayer was different now: A year, a year, a year. She put her hand on mine and said, I used to listen to that song when I was young. When she met Eddie, she didnt think it would work because he was eight years younger than she, but they fell in love anyway. He was twenty-five when we met him and twenty-seven when he married our mother and promised to be our father; a carpenter who could make and fix anything.
Such as if a doctor told you that you were going to die soon, youd be taken to a room with a gleaming wooden desk. We were led into an examining room, where a nurse instructed my mother to remove her shirt and put on a cotton smock with strings that dangled at her sides. Id fainted oncefurious, age three, holding my breath because I didnt want to get out of the bathtub, too young to remember it myself. Shed held out her hands and watched me turn blue, my mother had always told me. She held it stiffly with the other hand, trying to calm it. She wore a purple hat and a handful of diamond rings. She spoke in Spanish to the people gathered around her, her family and perhaps her husband. If I looked at him we would both crumble like dry crackers. Paper roses, paper roses, oh how real those roses seemed to be, she sang. Look both ways, shed call after us as we fled like a pack of hungry dogs.
Karen Cheryl Leif were alone with our mother againjust as wed been during the years that shed been single.
Dani Shapiro, New York Times Book Review I was on the edge of my seat. His back had healed enough that he could finally work again, and hed secured a job as a carpenter during the busy season that was too lucrative to pass up.