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Review: Girl in the Woods

January 19, 2016

Girl in the Woods

Aspen Matis grew up with a loving but overbearing mother.  It got to be too much so Matis decided to go to college across the country in Colorado, a place she was familiar with because her grandparents had a home there.

But devout in her complete care of my body, she had only taught me to be weak and voiceless.  I see my mother’s coddling was rooted in love of me, but it’s so sad it came at the cost of me not trusting myself — not seeing there was essential value in learning my own strength and independence.

Not knowing anyone at school and wanting to fit in, Matis went along with a few other students and was raped her second night at school.  Scared and not sure what to do, she waited to report it and struggled to find justice.  Floundering, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

My walk along the PCT had led me to the place where I could finally see that it was my responsibility to trust myself enough to fight back against dangers I could clearly see.  To love myself enough to know I didn’t deserve harm, and to stop blaming myself for it.

Girl in the Woods is Aspen Matis‘s story.  I love memoirs so I was drawn to this book.  Sure, I could see parallels to Wild by Cheryl Strayed (which I’ve yet to read) and went into this book with high hopes.  In the end, it was a mixed bag for me.

I give Matis a lot of credit for coming forward with her story.  She went through some traumatic things and sharing her story with the world had to be difficult.  Her writing is terrific and I appreciated her candor but, to be honest, parts of the book dragged for me.

The book alternates between Matis’s time on the trail and time spent with her family in the past and present.  I found her interactions with her family fascinating and would have loved to read more about her relationship with her mother.   But, for me, the part of the book set on the Pacific Crest Trail was too detailed so I found that part of the book slow.  Still, I think Matis has an important story to tell and Girl in the Woods is well worth reading, especially if you enjoy memoirs and/or the outdoors.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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20 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2016 4:18 am

    Courageous for her to speak out. Maybe a second book will round off her writing skills.

  2. January 19, 2016 6:30 am

    It does sound a bit like Wild. I agree – an important story to tell because it seems not uncommon, sadly.

  3. January 19, 2016 7:26 am

    I agree with Mary – sounds a lot like Wild.

  4. Patty permalink
    January 19, 2016 8:10 am

    Not a fan of memoirs but I love when others enjoy them.

  5. January 19, 2016 10:20 am

    Your review seems to line up with others I have read. I wasn’t a huge fan of Wild, so I’m not sure this is my kind of book.

  6. January 19, 2016 11:39 am

    I do love some memoirs, but I have mixed feelings about this one. Thanks!

  7. Literary Feline permalink
    January 19, 2016 12:56 pm

    I’m so picky about the memoirs I read these days. I don’t know that this is for me, but it sounds interesting.

  8. January 19, 2016 1:10 pm

    I love memoirs and love any kind of book about walking/hiking, so I’m adding this to my list. I hope I don’t find the parts about the trail too descriptive.

  9. January 19, 2016 1:12 pm

    I could not stand Wild but I would still give this one a chance, just because it’s so difficult to come forward with this subject.

  10. January 19, 2016 2:42 pm

    This does sounds similar to Wild. I think I would enjoy the family parts of the story, that would make it different from Wild. I have had enough of the Pacific Crest Trail, not interested in more books on that one.

  11. January 19, 2016 3:01 pm

    There are so many memoirs out there nowadays. And they are so hit and miss. This sounds like one I’m okay with skipping.

  12. January 19, 2016 3:55 pm

    I fear I may be one of those overbearing mother’s. I’d like to think I’m helping, but I’m sure I should shove my kid out the door and let him fly.

  13. January 19, 2016 4:29 pm

    I am not a big memoir fan, and if, then there has to be intense

  14. January 19, 2016 5:07 pm

    Thanks for your honest review of this memoir. I enjoyed the movie version of Wild.

  15. January 19, 2016 6:23 pm

    This title actually reminded me of Bill Bryson’s book A Walk In The Woods. Now there’s a autobiographical writer who doesn’t linger on ‘the boring bits’. Sorry this was a bit of a mixed bag, but I’m glad parts of it were well executed.

  16. January 20, 2016 8:11 am

    I had to DNF this one. It just wasn’t that great of a book. The writing was too flat and I found myself wondering why I ever picked the book in the first place.

  17. January 20, 2016 12:49 pm

    It’s too bad this book is so similar to Wild. It’s too easy to believe I’ve already heard this story.

  18. Diane permalink
    January 22, 2016 8:55 am

    I hated Wild, and actually a year later I must revisit it for my book group UGH. This sounds like it has possibilities; thanks for sharing this one.

  19. January 23, 2016 1:15 pm

    Lots of trail walking lately, Wild and I watched A Walk in the Woods last year…probably not for me but to be raped on your second day of college, what is supposed to be a a new and exciting adventure, is very sad.

  20. bookingmama permalink
    January 26, 2016 9:42 am

    I think memoirs often times drag a bit in places because they are real life… if that makes sense.

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