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I first read Jon Krakauer’s book, Into Thin Air, about the Mount Everest disaster about 12 years ago. Since I devoured that book, I looked for other Krakauer books to read soon after and found Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless, who, if you don’t know, was a 24 year old man trying to survive with very little resources in the Alaskan wilderness.
The story stuck with me long after I finished the book, and I found myself thinking often of Chris McCandless, mainly because I had several friends in college that I could see going on the same type of adventure. I never thought he was stupid for taking his journey; I understood. When I referred the book to my mom, she read it and disliked it immensely. She thought McCandless was a reckless, spoiled brat who caused his family much heartache. Honestly, I was surprised by her response, but apparently, many people reacted to Into the Wild that way.
Chris’ sister, Carine McCandless, feels that many people had the misconception of Chris and his journey because she had told Jon Krakauer how dysfunctional her family was (which was why Chris took his trip), but she still felt the need to protect her parents, so she didn’t let Krakauer tell the whole store of Chris’ upbringing in his book. This omission, she felt, caused many readers to misunderstand Chris and his motives.
Now that Carine McCandless is much older and has distanced herself from her parents, she decided to set the record straight in her book, The Wild Truth.
I really enjoyed this book, and just like Into the Wild, I found myself thinking of it long after I finished the book. Carine and Chris had a highly dysfunctional family. Chris responded by “divorcing” his parents, rejecting anything materialistic, and setting out on his own journey. From the time he graduated from college, he never talked to his parents again. Carine responded by trying to do everything right and picking the wrong guys, which wreaked havoc in her personal life.
If you’ve read Into the Wild or seen the movie, you’ll appreciate the behind the scenes look at Chris and Carine’s childhood (painful as it is) as well as what went into writing Into the Wild and bringing the story to the big screen.
If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, you’ll want to do so once you read this book.
When reading this book, you may often find yourself wondering who is telling the truth–the parents or the children. After all, we each see our lives through a filter and remember events and experiences differently. In the end, I’m inclined to believe Carine’s story and think that her parents are simply rewriting their own truth to keep guilt and remorse at bay.
In addition to this book, you may want to check out the special, Return to the Wild, which recaps Chris’ story and interviews his siblings and his parents.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plan’s scale.