The Memoir That Will Blow You Away (Plus 7 Other Powerful Picks)
Unexpected stories with heartache and revelations so intense, the experiences can only be real.
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Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild
240 pages; The Penguin Press HC
Available at:Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
When her eccentric, antisocial father goes missing in the wilds of the American West (only to resurface later in Arizona), Novella Carpenter decides to repair their tenuous relationship before the birth of her first child. Soon, she's driving from Oakland, California to her childhood home of Orofino, Idaho where her hippy globetrotting parents bought land in the 1970s, hoping to homestead and start a ranch. As was the case with other utopian idealists of the period, the dream and reality of Carpenter's parents quickly diverged, starting with her mother's relationship with a lover from the commune down the road to her father's increasingly violent and erratic decisions. So much in this story is lovingly described, such as her father's bungled attempts, to give the adult Carpenter a homemade guitar, or to show her how to fly fish...and so much is painfully revealed, such as his squalid living conditions and his fixation with the evils of civilization. How do we reconcile our obsession with people who both love us and drive us away, is the question behind this poignant, honest memoir—as well as, how do we love them back without hurting ourselves? The answers may be found with Carpenter's equally eccentric older sister, who arrives from France for a visit. When their father refuses to let her hug him, citing a recent illness—as well as Beelzebub, who he says is living on the land with him—she hugs him anyway, dispelling both threats with the potent response: "I'm immune, Dad. I'm immune."
— Leigh Newman