By Cheryl Strayed
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780345805614, 432pp.)
Publication Date: October 12, 2012
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In her debut novel, Torch, bestselling author Cheryl Strayed weaves a searing and luminous tale of a family's grief after unexpected loss. "Work hard. Do good. Be incredible!" is the advice Teresa Rae Wood shares with the listeners of her local radio show, Modern Pioneers, and the advice she strives to live by every day. She has fled a bad marriage and rebuilta life with her children, Claire and Joshua, and their caring stepfather, Bruce. Their love for each other binds them as a family through the daily struggles of making ends meet. But when they received unexpected news that Teresa, only 38, is dying of cancer, their lives all begin to unravel and drift apart. Strayed's intimate portraits of these fully human characters in a time of crisis show the varying truths of grief, forgiveness, and the beautiful terrors of learning how to keep living.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and Tiny Beautiful Things. Her stories and essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, The Rumpus, The Missouri Review, The Sun, The Best American Essays, and elsewhere.
"A heartbreaking anatomy of one family's grief. . . . Beautifully written and authentic."
"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
"Exquisite, powerful. . . . Strayed's Torch is an amazing feat. . . . This is autobiographical fiction at its best."
"A deeply honest novel of life after catastrophe, of intimacy lost and found."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Torch is a steady stream of finely wrought portrayals of nuance, moments and emotions. . . . Lovely turns of phrase are coupled with subtle and keen observations and truisms that remind a reader why she reads."
"Strayed proves a master of the little and the big. . . . There is throughout the novel a perfectly tuned ear. Combined with her empathic skills, she has transformed these familiar themes into an irresistibly engaging debut read."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"This novelist goes fearlessly into this place of raw grief and inappropriate lust and desperate love and simply reports what she sees: These are people who . . . live dense, perplexing, fascinating and authentic lives."
—Washington Post Book World
"[Strayed] astounds—producing a literary balm for those who know what it means to lose a parent. Coming on the heels of Joan Didion's memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, Torch echoes a similar theme: loss of a loved one will usher chaos into your life; it will shake you to your core; on its worst day, grief will make you absolutely crazy."
"Strayed...has a light hand, delivering emotional scenes with a journalistic eye, picking out the important details without resorting to purple prose. . . . Very moving."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"It's a beautiful book, expansive in its treatment of tragedy and grief, but equally attentive to all of the most telling details. The language is lovely, offering delicious, compelling imagery without being heavy-handed."
"Strayed knows how to balance the heartache with humor, and the spiritual with the mundane, to create characters you begin to know like friends."
"Strayed addresses this universal theme with skill and unflinching compassion by creating exceptionally believable characters. . . . The details are precise, understated and devastating. . . . The metaphors are original and rich. . . . In short, this is a very moving and accomplished novel."