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Torch

Strayed, Cheryl, 1968- (Book - 2005 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Torch
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Houghton
"Be incredible!" That's the advice Teresa Rae Wood gives the listeners of her popular local radio show, Modern Pioneers!, a kind of hippie Praire Home Companion. Teresa has taken the advice to heart in her own life. As a teen mother and abused wife, she escaped with her two children to rural Minnesota, fell in love with a local carpenter, and raised good kids, Claire and Joshua. Then, at only 38, she receives the devastating news that she is gravely ill. In just a few weeks, she is gone.

The award-winning writer Cheryl Strayed creates from this shattering experience a novel that reviewers have called "an unforgettable read" and "a hauntingly beautiful story" that "shimmers with a humane grace." *

Infused with compassion and surprising humor, Torch takes a refreshingly unsentimental view of a family reeling from crisis. Claire drops out of college to devote herself to keeping her mother's memory alive back home. Joshua drifts out of high school and into trouble, keeping his grief silently private. Suddenly thrown into adulthood, they struggle to figure out how to connect in this new, unthinkable situation. Their one remaining ballast is Teresa's gentle common-law husband, Bruce. When Bruce announces news of his own plans, it comes as a shock not only to Claire and Joshua but also to the townspeople who have watched this unusual family grow and have come to love them.

Cheryl Strayed has a deep appreciation for the shifting rhythms between siblings and parents and for the beautiful terrors of learning how to keep living. The wonderful characters in Torch come alive and stay with you long after the novel ends.

*Library Journal; Kirkus Reviews; Publishers Weekly

Cheryl Strayed's award-winning stories and essays have appeared in more than a dozen magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Allure, Self, The Sun, and Nerve. Widely anthologized, her work is featured in The Best New American Voices 2003 and has been selected twice for The Best American Essays. Raised in Minnesota, Strayed has worked as a political organizer for women's advocacy groups and was an outreach worker at a sexual violence center in Minneapolis. She holds an M.F.A. from the Syracuse University Graduate Creative Writing Program. She now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children.

Baker & Taylor
When radio show host Teresa Rae Wood dies, her common-law husband and children become isolated in grief just when they need one another the most, in a debut novel that explores the beautiful terrors of learning to keep living.

Blackwell North Amer
Be incredible! That's the advice Teresa Rae Wood gives the listeners of her popular local radio show, Modern Pioneers!, a kind of hippie Prairie Home Companion, Teresa has taken the advice to heart in her own life. As a teen mother and abused wife, she escaped with her two children to rural Minnesota, fell in love with a local carpenter, and raised good kids, Claire and Joshua. Then, at only thirty-eight, she receives the devastating news that she is gravely ill. In just a few weeks, she is gone.
Infused with compassion and humor, Torch takes an unsentimental view of a family reeling from crisis. Claire drops out of college to devote herself to keeping her mother's memory alive back home. Joshua drifts out of high school and into trouble, keeping his grief silently private. Suddenly thrown into adulthood, they struggle to figure out how to connect in this new, unthinkable situation. Their one remaining ballast is Teresa's gentle common-law husband, Bruce. When Bruce announces news of his own plans, it comes as a chock not only to Claire and Joshua but also to the townspeople who have watched this unusual family grow and have come to love them.

Baker
& Taylor

When radio show host Teresa Rae Wood dies, her common-law husband and children, struggling to keep her memory alive, become isolated in grief just when they need one another the most.

Authors: Strayed, Cheryl, 1968-
Statement of Responsibility: Cheryl Strayed
Title: Torch
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Characteristics: 322 p. ; 24 cm.
Subject Headings: Minnesota Fiction Cancer in women Fiction Mothers Death Fiction Cancer Patients Fiction Women in radio broadcasting Fiction
Genre/Form: Domestic fiction
Psychological fiction
Topical Term: Cancer in women
Mothers
Cancer
Women in radio broadcasting
LCCN: 2005010333
ISBN: 0618472177
Research Call Number: JFE 06-1497
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Jul 12, 2012
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

In Cheryl Strayed's debut novel, cancer rocks the foundation of a Minnesota family. As a teenaged mother, Teresa Rae Wood fled her abusive husband and started a new life outside Duluth. Townspeople know her for her decency, her keen mind and her quirky radio program, "Modern Pioneers."

Teresa's family includes her daughter, Claire, a book-smart and emotive college senior; her son, Joshua, a sensitive and taciturn adolescent about to graduate from high school; and Bruce, her common-law husband and adoring soulmate. The tragic news of Teresa’s diagnosis followed by her ultimate death shatters the family as each member takes a unique approach toward self-destruction. Bruce alienates himself from the community and latches on to the first single woman he can find. Joshua develops a drug habit, drops out of school and becomes a father. Claire has a sexual dalliance with a much older man and lets her studies slide.

If you've read Strayed's excellent new memoir, "Wild," "Torch" may seem repetitive because of its autobiographical nature. Nevertheless, Strayed has a gift of getting to the core of the human condition without artifice. She effectively taps into the psyche of midwestern America, and her evocative prose leaves an indelible mark. She has composed a hauntingly beautiful story written with tenderness and endowed with true insights into the frailty of relationships.

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