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Review: Girl in the Woods

Cover of Girl in the Woods, which shows black trees against a green backgroundGirl in the Woods is Aspen Matis’ memoir about dropping out of college after being raped to hike the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Mexico to Canada on her own. Suffering from the trauma of the rape, her college’s poor handling of the situation, and her family discouraging her from discussing it, Aspen Matis (then Debby) begins her hike in an attempt to not only overcome this trauma, but also to find out who she is away from her overprotective parents, college, and the past.

This memoir is so many things. It’s a story about hiking. It’s a story about redemption. It’s a coming of age tale. It’s a (self) love story. It talks about mental health, rape, family, body image, college and so much more. This isn’t the type of book I normally read (I’m usually more of a fiction person), but this was a captivating read. Debby is exactly the kind of underdog that I can root for. Matis is honest about what happened to her and how she behaved as a result, never shying away from calling herself reckless or depressed. She recognizes that she was a victim not only of rape but also of society’s standards for women, and fearlessly addresses these issues through the narrative she tells.

While this book really stands out for the growth of its narrator, it is also remarkable for its beautiful descriptions of the PCT. Matis strikes a good balance between being informative and entertaining, providing just enough information to allow readers to create an image without turning into a hiking guide-book. I’m not much of a hiker, but this book definitely made me want to strap on a backpack and hit the trail. Many might not pick this as a summer read because of the somewhat heavy subject matter, but I am pretty happy I took it on vacation with me as it seemed fitting to read about hiking in the woods while surrounded by nature at my family’s cottage.

I’ve never read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, but I hope this book does equally well. It covers a lot of important issues, but it is ultimately about one woman’s journey to salvation and I think that’s important in and of itself.

Final verdict: A book that is as inspiring as it is entertaining! Pick it up because it is without a doubt an excellent read.

1 thought on “Review: Girl in the Woods”

  1. Pingback: 6 Books that Got Me Into Non-Fiction - Emily Stewart

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