February 20th, 2015
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As soon as I finished reading Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s fantastic New York Times best-selling memoir (http://crylaughheal.com/wild-by-cheryl-strayed/), I wanted to read more of Stayed’s work.

I enjoyed seeing Wild the movie and thought it should have received more attention in terms of nominations but what I really wanted was to read more of Strayed’s honest and direct thoughts about the gritty aspects of life and loss, what happens to us through our friendships and who and how we love.

I wanted to read more of the her words, and the way she chooses to put them together.  I truly have never read anyone who writes the way she does.  I wanted another one of her books.


Torch is the book that Strayed wrote before Wild was published in 2012 and I couldn’t wait to read it.  Now that I have finished it, I am hoping that Cheryl Strayed decides to write another fabulous, beautiful book very soon.

Torch is an intimate story about a family that is held together by a spontaneous and deep love yet those bonds are tested by the death of one of its members.  Torch focuses on how this ever-changing and sometimes surreal life feels from the point of view of each person in the family, the children and the adults, in a way that lets the reader feel as though they are inside the person’s head and experiencing their efforts at deflecting pain and disappointment and even rebuilding their new life from inside their traumatized hearts.

You may wonder how a family can unravel when all of them are missing and grieving the same person who has died yet Torch reveals the answer to this in a very human way and offers insight into how this can happen.  It happens quickly, quietly and without a thought.  It is not something that anyone consciously plans or sets out to do.  Torch also reveals to the reader how it is possible to self-destruct a bit, forgive yourself and others and start over again all in the search for love.

I wasn’t sure that Torch was fiction because as I began to read it I thought the story had many similarities to Strayed’s life.  Yet Strayed writes in the preface of Torch that it is fiction.  In fact, Torch is the best of both worlds, for Strayed says she drew on life experiences while writing Torch “but the autobiographical elements were only the seeds from which I created a fictional world.”

“Torch is the story I had boiling in my bones for the first thirty-four years of my life,” Strayed writes.  “It’s the story I felt I could not live without telling.  The one that made me think I could die when I finished writing it (though I can’t and don’t want to.)”

I found Torch to be a compelling story because it shows us how people continue to live, to make a different life for themselves after a big hole has been blasted into it by the loss of a loved one.

Strayed is a truly gifted writer who has the most amazing way of guiding you through the unforgettable story of Torch and to its characters’ unexpected emotions and thoughts and then leading you to a place of healing.

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