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The Wild Truth: A Memoir

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The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Pe The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Penn's inspirational film by the same name further skyrocketed Chris McCandless to global fame. But the real story of Chris's life and his journey has not yet been told—until now. The missing pieces are finally revealed in The Wild Truth, written by Carine McCandless, Chris's beloved and trusted sister. Featured in both the book and film, Carine has wrestled for more than twenty years with the legacy of her brother's journey to self-discovery, and now tells her own story while filling in the blanks of his. Carine was Chris's best friend, the person with whom he had the closest bond, and who witnessed firsthand the dysfunctional and violent family dynamic that made Chris willing to embrace the harsh wilderness of Alaska. Growing up in the same troubled household, Carine speaks candidly about the deeper reality of life in the McCandless family. In the many years since the tragedy of Chris's death, Carine has searched for some kind of redemption. In this touching and deeply personal memoir, she reveals how she has learned that real redemption can only come from speaking the truth.


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The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Pe The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Penn's inspirational film by the same name further skyrocketed Chris McCandless to global fame. But the real story of Chris's life and his journey has not yet been told—until now. The missing pieces are finally revealed in The Wild Truth, written by Carine McCandless, Chris's beloved and trusted sister. Featured in both the book and film, Carine has wrestled for more than twenty years with the legacy of her brother's journey to self-discovery, and now tells her own story while filling in the blanks of his. Carine was Chris's best friend, the person with whom he had the closest bond, and who witnessed firsthand the dysfunctional and violent family dynamic that made Chris willing to embrace the harsh wilderness of Alaska. Growing up in the same troubled household, Carine speaks candidly about the deeper reality of life in the McCandless family. In the many years since the tragedy of Chris's death, Carine has searched for some kind of redemption. In this touching and deeply personal memoir, she reveals how she has learned that real redemption can only come from speaking the truth.

30 review for The Wild Truth: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Courtney La cava

    I feel that most of the people who have panned this book do so because they don't like that Chris and Carine had such a problem with their parents. As if it's okay or at least normal for parents to act this way, or that Carine should have 'sucked it up' or 'stopped whining'. I wonder how many of them had abusive parents. As a survivor of things similar, and at times worse, than Carine and Chris, I felt like this book truly spoke to me. I always admired Chris after reading Into the Wild and seein I feel that most of the people who have panned this book do so because they don't like that Chris and Carine had such a problem with their parents. As if it's okay or at least normal for parents to act this way, or that Carine should have 'sucked it up' or 'stopped whining'. I wonder how many of them had abusive parents. As a survivor of things similar, and at times worse, than Carine and Chris, I felt like this book truly spoke to me. I always admired Chris after reading Into the Wild and seeing the film adaptation. I could always see those hints at abuse, and the desire to find freedom from it was inspiring. Like Chris, I have found that being alone in nature can heal many wounds. I hope others find the same.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Reading this book was like pulling over on the Interstate to gawk at a 20-car pileup. You know you shouldn't be staring at the mess, but you can't look away. Carine McCandless is the younger sister of Chris McCandless, who became famous after his story was published in Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild (which was also made into a movie, directed by Sean Penn). This summary is from Krakauer's Author's Note: "In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and wal Reading this book was like pulling over on the Interstate to gawk at a 20-car pileup. You know you shouldn't be staring at the mess, but you can't look away. Carine McCandless is the younger sister of Chris McCandless, who became famous after his story was published in Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild (which was also made into a movie, directed by Sean Penn). This summary is from Krakauer's Author's Note: "In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. Mckinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters ... His name turned out to be Christopher Johnson McCandless. He'd grown up, I learned, in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., where he'd excelled academically and had been an elite athlete. Immediately after graduating, with honors, from Emory University in the summer of 1990, McCandless dropped out of sight. He changed his name, gave the entire balance of a $24,000 savings account to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet. And then he invented a new life for himself, taking up residence at the ragged margin of our society, wandering across North America in search of raw, transcendent experience. His family had no idea where he was or what had become of him until his remains turned up in Alaska." I have read Into the Wild many times and loved it. I had a strong, personal reaction to McCandless' story because he reminded me of a loved one. When I heard that Christopher's sister had written a book about him and their family, I knew I had to read it. While I am glad I did, the story now bothers even more. Carine said she wanted to write this memoir to show why Christopher chose to leave his family. "I wanted to explain that going into the wild was far from crazy; it was the sanest thing he could have done." Her book does give some context to Chris' actions. The simplest explanation is that their parents, Walt and Billie, fought a lot, yelled a lot, and things often turned violent. When they were younger, Chris tried to protect Carine from the abuse, and he once told a friend he felt guilty for abandoning her when he left for college. A more complicated explanation is that in addition to the domestic abuse, Walt had another family. He had six children with his first wife, Marcia, and was still married to her when Chris was born. Walt split his time between the two homes, and he constructed elaborate excuses for his extended absences and the other children. (Walt's "fiery temper" and the marriage overlap are briefly mentioned in Krakauer's book, but Carine's memoir is much more explicit.) It wasn't until Chris and Carine were much older that they learned the truth about Walt's first wife and their six half-siblings. Carine wrote that Walt's duplicity greatly upset Chris, and he fumed for years about it. "I believe Chris went into the wilderness in search of what was lacking in his childhood: peace, purity, honesty. And he understood there was nowhere better for him to find that than in nature." I was fascinated by Carine's story, but also repelled by it. I liked learning more about Chris' life, but she spends a lot of time discussing her boyfriends and her failed marriages and her materialistic needs. It doesn't take a psych degree to see that Carine made the same mistakes as her mother, and some of those choices upset Chris. I would not recommend this book unless you really want to learn more about Christopher McCandless, or if you want to delve into a seriously dysfunctional family. My rating: 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 P.S. One good thing that came out of reading this memoir is it prompted me to reread Into the Wild. Man, I love that book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Lane

    If you pick up this book to try and fill in the blanks as to why Mr McCandless left his family, and engaged on an ultimately suicidal trek then you won't find much new. CM is largely a cameo role in what is a 400 page teen angst, whining fest about her mean parents. Walt and Billie weren't parents I'd particularly like, but neither were they the psychos the book tries to say. I think the delving into finding porn (adult) on Walts laptop, and his smoking pot is a bit cheap, and just a character a If you pick up this book to try and fill in the blanks as to why Mr McCandless left his family, and engaged on an ultimately suicidal trek then you won't find much new. CM is largely a cameo role in what is a 400 page teen angst, whining fest about her mean parents. Walt and Billie weren't parents I'd particularly like, but neither were they the psychos the book tries to say. I think the delving into finding porn (adult) on Walts laptop, and his smoking pot is a bit cheap, and just a character assassination, for the sake of it. As someone else here reviewed, it's a hate letter to her parents. Maybe she feels they deserve it. Carine claimed to have this great bond with CM, but by her materialistic nature, and her snobbery, leads me to think that if CM was running from sick society and materialism, he'd probably run from Carine as much as his parents. Towards the end of the book, she says how she has friends divulging dreams of CM, as a sort of message that he is looking out for her. It's a bit straw clutching. Her mother Billie, adequately summed it up during a family fight "Chris left you too". It felt really cringeworthy how she seems so open about her attempts at controlling the script for the Into the Wild movie. And hinted at confrontation with Sean Penn, in her belief her version of CMs story is the only valid one. I guess the thing you take from this, is a family that has been harmed by the grief of losing a brother/son. And while exploiting his death for financial benefit, they couldn't also come together. Unfortunately, unlike most people grieving a loved one, they have the ability to and have decided (or at least Carine has) to advertise their dysfunctionality. Summary; if you want to read a book about a slightly dysfunctional family, and a girl who both benefits from and trash-talks her parents, then this book is it. If you want some more insight into Chris McCandless this probably isn't it. There are some facts about CM, I found mildly interesting (no spoiler), but nothing here seems to tell us anything new as to his psyche.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kerri Anne

    Some of the reviews I've seen on Goodreads about this book really upset me. Like, REALLY upset me. I get it: A lot of people don't understand memoirs. A lot of people don't get that you can critique the writing, the style, the flow of the narrative. You can critique the title of the book, or the quotes leading into the chapters (I personally found them exceptionally cheesy and even copy-cat in places, except where notes from Chris' found paperbacks were concerned). What you CAN'T critique, howev Some of the reviews I've seen on Goodreads about this book really upset me. Like, REALLY upset me. I get it: A lot of people don't understand memoirs. A lot of people don't get that you can critique the writing, the style, the flow of the narrative. You can critique the title of the book, or the quotes leading into the chapters (I personally found them exceptionally cheesy and even copy-cat in places, except where notes from Chris' found paperbacks were concerned). What you CAN'T critique, however, is the memory of the person who is writing the memoir. And you certainly can't seek to call her a "whiner" or "rude" or accuse her of writing a "hate letter" to her (horrible, deserving of every hate letter on the planet) parents, all the while attempting to minimize her and Chris' and her entire family's pain at the DECADES of perpetual and endless physical and emotional abuse suffered at the hands of two people who, from this reading and all corroborating evidence, appear to be more than just a bit criminally insane. You don't get to justify their behavior. You don't get to act like you were there, and that Carine is simply "exaggerating for effect." And the men AND women who do all of that anyway? You're terrible. You're contributors to the problem of rape and incest and domestic violence being some of the most under-reported CRIMES of all the crimes plaguing mankind since the dawn of time. And you should be ashamed of yourselves. No narrator is perfect, nor perfectly reliable. But to tell the truth about her parents, about the abuse in the McCandless house-holds*, alongside the truth about the not so awesome decisions Carine herself made after witnessing and being intimately involved in patterns of unending abuse her entire life - that? Takes immense COURAGE. Which is not what it takes to come here and rip her apart for trying to tell the truth after years and years of fearfully suppressing it to save face, to "honor" her manipulative and cruel parents, and to be the "good daughter" she was always expected to be. And the people reviewing this book who never read Into the Wild (and thus have no context for any of this) in the first place? What are you even doing here? *BECAUSE OMG, THERE WERE TWO HOUSEHOLDS, and that's easily and decidedly proven, so even IF you didn't believe a single other word Carine (or anyone else in the dual McCandless household(s)) said in this book, Walt McCandless having a bigamous relationship AND FORCIBLY RAPING HIS TWO WIVES nearly simultaneously should be enough to relieve him of the benefit of any doubts. The fact that Carine can (and does) still walk around talking about all of this, telling people her parents "were just people who made mistakes" is another HUGE testament to her character, and to her (admittedly sometimes maddening) belief that her parents could and maybe someday still would become better people. Because if I were her, I'd call Walt McCandless what he was (and is): I'd call him a monster. But then, I wasn't forced to live in a house like that. I wasn't born into a family so dysfunctional, so petty, so hurtful. I was blessed beyond all manner of belief, and not having to live in fear? That will never not be a game-changer. So, yeah, I'm giving this book FIVE stars. Because stories like this are important, and I want more women to feel safe and secure coming out of the closet as victims and into the light as broken and imperfect but hopefully on-their-way-to-healed humans. And if you're the sort of person who seeks first to criticize a victim rather than empathize with them? TRY HARDER. Or shut up. Seriously. [Five stars for being bold enough to tell your story, Carine. Five stars for the truth. Five stars for you becoming a strong, beautiful, and badass woman despite everything you had to endure along the way.]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Rothbard

    Boring and petty I was so excited when I first heard about this book. Then I started reading it. The author is about as narcissistic as they come. No wonder Chris left his entire family without staying in contact with any of them. What a bunch of nuts. She says she wrote this book to show the truth about why Chris left. Anyone with half a brain would know from reading the first book it was because he was unhappy in his current life and family. This book is basically the sisters' life memoir and b Boring and petty I was so excited when I first heard about this book. Then I started reading it. The author is about as narcissistic as they come. No wonder Chris left his entire family without staying in contact with any of them. What a bunch of nuts. She says she wrote this book to show the truth about why Chris left. Anyone with half a brain would know from reading the first book it was because he was unhappy in his current life and family. This book is basically the sisters' life memoir and by the end of the book, I was left with a sense of 'who cares'? Just another family member trying to make a buck. Don't waste your money.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eva Smith

    Carine McCandless shows up unannounced in front of her former childhood home. The current owner is kind to her uninvited guest and graciously allows McCandless to tour the house. Her kindness is repaid by McCandless writing about the unkempt yard, the nicotine smell in the house that makes her cough, etc. Even the dog is libeled as the writer conveys her suspicion that poor old Charlie must have peed on the carpet. Rude. This beginning sets the tone. Summarizing the content of the rest of book: Carine McCandless shows up unannounced in front of her former childhood home. The current owner is kind to her uninvited guest and graciously allows McCandless to tour the house. Her kindness is repaid by McCandless writing about the unkempt yard, the nicotine smell in the house that makes her cough, etc. Even the dog is libeled as the writer conveys her suspicion that poor old Charlie must have peed on the carpet. Rude. This beginning sets the tone. Summarizing the content of the rest of book: my parents were awful, my first husband was awful and his father was awful, my second husband was awful, my third husband’s ex-wife was awful, my third husband wasn’t awful but we separated anyway, and, oh, my parents are awful. And my dead brother spoke to me through a friend’s dream. Now you don’t have to read “The Wild Truth.” I feel I have performed a public service.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Disappointing book. The author claims that she is going to focus on telling the truth of her brother's story, but it's actually just a story of her own life, and it references her brother's occasionally. Yes, I feel bad that she suffered abuse from her parents, but she seems to have not changed or grown or learned from it because she continues to welcome them back into her life time after time. She doesn't even see it. She says she's better than them because she can leave three failed marriages Disappointing book. The author claims that she is going to focus on telling the truth of her brother's story, but it's actually just a story of her own life, and it references her brother's occasionally. Yes, I feel bad that she suffered abuse from her parents, but she seems to have not changed or grown or learned from it because she continues to welcome them back into her life time after time. She doesn't even see it. She says she's better than them because she can leave three failed marriages and they couldn't divorce, but she can't leave them, and the whole book is her explaining what terrible people she thinks they are. She seems unable to separate herself from her parents because they are rich and buy her things and will leave money to her kids. It's sad. So this book feels like a desperate attempt to get money because she quit her job after her third marriage and she has a brother who actually decided to separate himself from a materialistic family and became famous doing it. I wanted my money back at the end of the book. I actually feel bad supporting this.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Sillitoe

    One of the frustrations I felt with Into The Wild was that it clearly wasn't the whole story. It was clear that he did not have the happy childhood people on the outside thought he did, but it wasn't clear why. I figured 'strict' meant some abuse and I could tell Chris' parents had very little insight to him. I wondered did that go both ways? What this book showed me was that Chris had plenty of insight into his parents--enough to sever ties and walk away. Reading this book made me want to rewri One of the frustrations I felt with Into The Wild was that it clearly wasn't the whole story. It was clear that he did not have the happy childhood people on the outside thought he did, but it wasn't clear why. I figured 'strict' meant some abuse and I could tell Chris' parents had very little insight to him. I wondered did that go both ways? What this book showed me was that Chris had plenty of insight into his parents--enough to sever ties and walk away. Reading this book made me want to rewrite Chris' life. This time help would come in time, weakened and exhausted, Chris would return to the world.....not to his parents, but to his brothers and sisters. That even if he chose a wandering, solitary lifestyle, he would come home once in a while and learn, as Carine has, that families can include the people who support you. This is a story of survival: surviving a childhood and decades of dysfunction, and the loss of a beloved brother and of a woman trying to build her life, making mistakes, and trying again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This book was a big disappointment. Let me say I am not in the Chris McCandless as some kind of martyr camp. I am definitely someone who saw him as a victim of his own idealistic idiocy going into the Alaskan wilderness ill prepared and uninformed. His demise while tragic was predictable and needless. So he grew up in dysfunctional family. So what. So do millions of others. All I got from this is a feeling of pomposity and self righteousness from the author. And if she and her brother were SO cl This book was a big disappointment. Let me say I am not in the Chris McCandless as some kind of martyr camp. I am definitely someone who saw him as a victim of his own idealistic idiocy going into the Alaskan wilderness ill prepared and uninformed. His demise while tragic was predictable and needless. So he grew up in dysfunctional family. So what. So do millions of others. All I got from this is a feeling of pomposity and self righteousness from the author. And if she and her brother were SO close, why did he not reach out to her for two years. I think she has enjoyed all of the attention she has received over the years related to this tragedy. This is her story not his.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    The great part of this book that overshadows any other part of it is that it has to do with Christopher McCandless' story. Which is one of the best stories I think I have ever heard. The book was also very well written. I was engaged the whole time. I did it on audio and then the second half I sped up the audio and read along with it. Carine reads the story which is a huge plus. The questionable part of this book is that it is really more about family dynamics. Chris is a mostly minor character i The great part of this book that overshadows any other part of it is that it has to do with Christopher McCandless' story. Which is one of the best stories I think I have ever heard. The book was also very well written. I was engaged the whole time. I did it on audio and then the second half I sped up the audio and read along with it. Carine reads the story which is a huge plus. The questionable part of this book is that it is really more about family dynamics. Chris is a mostly minor character in that his sister (perhaps for the sake of the book) finds a significant portion of her identity in being connected with Chris. Obviously Chris' death and subsequent fame was a big event for his family. Essentially the book is answering those critics of Christopher McCandless' story who say he was being selfish when he took off to experience life. Carine reveals that his family was abusive in almost every sense of the word. This book tells his sister's side of their growing up story and perhaps some of Chris' as well. Though anyone who called Chris selfish for leaving his family I think is missing the point of Chris and going "Into the Wild" As I reflected on this book I kept thinking of this quote: "You're never as good as you think you are when you win; and you're never as bad as you feel when you lose." - Joe Paterno I sense that Carine felt like she was "losing" because so many people called Chris selfish and identified with her parents' side of the story, but in my opinion that was only the sentiment of people who did not understand why Chris acted the way he did. I suspect Chris went "Into the Wild" in an act of rebellion against an industrialized machine-like existence. I think he would have done it had his parents been abusive or not. I think that probably during college he was able to distance himself enough that the negative part of their relationship was minimized and he was free to make his own decisions. He made them. I think he had the same motivation as Thoreau, to "live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." The second critique of Chris being an idiot who went into the wild also misses the point. Death was not the worst which could happen to him. Breathing without living was the worst. Living a life of quite desperation was the worst. Spending the majority of your life going into debt to make money to buy things to need more money was the worst. All in all though, I'm thankful for more info on the story. I enjoyed reading about the familial relationships whether or not they connected to the main point of "Into the Wild".

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    This alternative tale acts as an interesting counterweight to Krakauer's earlier book. I honestly don't understand the disparaging reviews that have accompanied what is, in my opinion, a brave and honest recounting of the catalyst that drove Chris McCandless into the wild. When reading Krakauer's writing, I picked up on the subtle undertones of domestic instability that lead Chris to break with the world. But Carine succeeds in filling in the gaps in both Chris' somewhat mysterious background an This alternative tale acts as an interesting counterweight to Krakauer's earlier book. I honestly don't understand the disparaging reviews that have accompanied what is, in my opinion, a brave and honest recounting of the catalyst that drove Chris McCandless into the wild. When reading Krakauer's writing, I picked up on the subtle undertones of domestic instability that lead Chris to break with the world. But Carine succeeds in filling in the gaps in both Chris' somewhat mysterious background and expounds on the relationship they had with the "other" family, which I found particularly poignant. Carine's resiliency astounded me, she is amazing and brave in her own right -- and I, for one, enjoyed reading her story. Perhaps I am also motivated to empathy by the fact that I have never perceived Chris McCandless as selfish or naive, I have always felt that his act was intentional, necessary and important. He has become something of a personal hero for me. However, I recently taught a unit on Into the Wild and my student's essay responses centered on hubris, stupidity and selfishness rather than his pioneer spirit. Honestly, I was disappointed in their reaction. I intend to encourage them to read Carine's recounting of Chris' childhood in order to hone their opinion.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darci Gardner

    First of all, I am appalled by the reviews I have read that say :"Whine much?" Or "The abuse must not have been that bad if she kept going back for their money." Okay, hold up. What? Because a woman is telling a horrific story about the severe emotional and physical abuse that happened in her home that makes her a whiner? And because she accepted money from her parents on multiple occasions that doesn't mean anything. Her parents were extremely manipulative with everything, including money. Until First of all, I am appalled by the reviews I have read that say :"Whine much?" Or "The abuse must not have been that bad if she kept going back for their money." Okay, hold up. What? Because a woman is telling a horrific story about the severe emotional and physical abuse that happened in her home that makes her a whiner? And because she accepted money from her parents on multiple occasions that doesn't mean anything. Her parents were extremely manipulative with everything, including money. Until you are in her position, it is not our right to judge. Moving on, this book helped me to truly see the horrific childhood that Chris had to endure and helped me to understand more fully his pilgrimage. If I had parents like that I would want to go anywhere to get away from them as well. I loved Into the Wild and felt like this book made me transform my view of Chris from "he must have been a bit nutty to do this" to "ohhhh, I totally get it now."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erik Halfacre

    Carine pulls away the veil of mystery surrounding Chris' motives for leaving his family and severing communications with his parents as he ventured Into the Wild. Carine openly discusses the childhood that she, Chris, and the rest of their siblings lived through. She highlights the effects that physical and emotional abuse had on her family at the hands of narcissistic parents, with a level of honesty and candor not previously seen by the public. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to Carine pulls away the veil of mystery surrounding Chris' motives for leaving his family and severing communications with his parents as he ventured Into the Wild. Carine openly discusses the childhood that she, Chris, and the rest of their siblings lived through. She highlights the effects that physical and emotional abuse had on her family at the hands of narcissistic parents, with a level of honesty and candor not previously seen by the public. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about Chris, but especially to anyone who has suffered abuse. Carine is a remarkable example of someone who has put her foot down and broken the cycle of abuse.

  14. 5 out of 5

    TomPerignon

    I found this book to be extremely frustrating. While readers would be enticed to read this based on the mystery around Chris McCandless and the ultimate truth, the author spends 3/4 of her time talking about her relationship with her parents and how bad that relationship was. The other 1/4 of the novel felt forced - adding tidbits of info about Chris's life or repeating Jon Krakauer - just to keep the reader reading. It was only in dull moments that Chris was brought into the novel. While I don't I found this book to be extremely frustrating. While readers would be enticed to read this based on the mystery around Chris McCandless and the ultimate truth, the author spends 3/4 of her time talking about her relationship with her parents and how bad that relationship was. The other 1/4 of the novel felt forced - adding tidbits of info about Chris's life or repeating Jon Krakauer - just to keep the reader reading. It was only in dull moments that Chris was brought into the novel. While I don't doubt the author and family had a terrible upbringing, it just felt like a teenage journal being sold for profit based on the loss of a loved one. All of this isn't without some praise. I felt I actually learned something from her novel about some of the missing pieces of Chris's life and for that I am grateful, the novel did help put some puzzle pieces together. It is apparent that the author's quest for catharsis (in life and this novel) seems to be reached - and I did feel like I was on a journey with her in that healing process. I just wish the novel would have been advocated and promoted properly - a memoir based on her life instead of some sort of revealing text based on Chris's life. If I had known that I probably would have passed on this novel and reread Into The Wild for the 10th time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Helcel

    This book is not really about her brother. I was looking for insight into his character and did not find it here. This book is about Carine and how much she hates her parents. They were abusive. She acts like they are the only abused children in the history of the world. It is ridiculous. She needs therapy to stop being such a victim.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Reading about Chris and Carine's childhood has reminded me of the importance of displaying unconditional love to your children at all times. I hope that even though the book brings to light some harsh realities that the truth coming out will help bring healing to their family. Reading about Chris and Carine's childhood has reminded me of the importance of displaying unconditional love to your children at all times. I hope that even though the book brings to light some harsh realities that the truth coming out will help bring healing to their family.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janet Pawelek

    You want some cheese with that whine?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Disclaimer: I have never read Into the Wild, nor have I seen the movie. So with that out of the way, let's start with my having no prior opinions about the McCandless story. Why read this? Because I hoped to learn from the family's side what drove Chris McCandless to do what he did, and perhaps get a better sense of why so many schools are requiring the Krakauer book. And this book does provide that insight, but... well... so many problems. There are weird timeline gaps here, like the time Chris s Disclaimer: I have never read Into the Wild, nor have I seen the movie. So with that out of the way, let's start with my having no prior opinions about the McCandless story. Why read this? Because I hoped to learn from the family's side what drove Chris McCandless to do what he did, and perhaps get a better sense of why so many schools are requiring the Krakauer book. And this book does provide that insight, but... well... so many problems. There are weird timeline gaps here, like the time Chris spends at Emory is given short shrift. It's only later in the book that we get anything else (his college summer jobs). If that job was important to understanding Chris, why leave it out of his history and only glancingly mention it? The family history is written in the style of A Child Called It or The Chinese Cinderella, but towards the end there was a "yeah, things sucked but we also had some great times" acknowledgement. This also is more Carine's story, with Chris dying far too early in the book for this to really do him justice. We didn't need as much about her three marriages, her jobs, etc.. More of Chris' life, more of what his friends thought, less of the more recent family dynamic and this would have been a much stronger book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Chris McCandless has been a personal hero of mine for the last quarter of my life. At twenty, his story resonates with me as much as it did when I first encountered it at fifteen. And after reading Carine's account of their background, she has joined her brother as a personal hero of mine. Her resilience is remarkable, and the courage of her memoir is incredible. It's a compelling read and answers many questions. Chris McCandless has been a personal hero of mine for the last quarter of my life. At twenty, his story resonates with me as much as it did when I first encountered it at fifteen. And after reading Carine's account of their background, she has joined her brother as a personal hero of mine. Her resilience is remarkable, and the courage of her memoir is incredible. It's a compelling read and answers many questions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary Blye Kramer

    I picked up this book, like most of you I assume, because I’d both read and seen Into the Wild. That had been a great read and I was curious to know what more could be said about Chris McCandless, the author’s brother, found dead years ago in Alaska. The book, however, was mostly about her parents and I found myself often cringing. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the author’s stories; I do. But she came off as so angry, without an inner resolution. I cringed for some of what the author revealed I picked up this book, like most of you I assume, because I’d both read and seen Into the Wild. That had been a great read and I was curious to know what more could be said about Chris McCandless, the author’s brother, found dead years ago in Alaska. The book, however, was mostly about her parents and I found myself often cringing. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the author’s stories; I do. But she came off as so angry, without an inner resolution. I cringed for some of what the author revealed about her parents, and doubted her brother was so flawless. I do not want to feel sorry for them but the book was so petty at times that I couldn’t help it. Her dad looking at porn? Was that necessary? In the author’s prologue she writes that when her dad punished her and her brother, he made them bare their butts after which he’d belt her brother and “run his fingers” along hers. Yet there’s not even a hint of sexual perversion past page 12 so why did she say that? Her dad isn’t a pervert anywhere else in the book so ... weird. The author would also say one thing about her parents (they aren’t monsters) and then show them exactly opposite. She would point out her brother’s tendency toward drama but then gloss on as if he were nearing canonization. It all seemed disjointed and stilted and forced. But the worst thing is that the reader never really sees any other side to the author other than how “triumphant” she was in her own eyes in pretty much every area of life. She raised my eyebrows at her statement that cane when she met Sean Penn, who would produce the movie based on her brother’s life and death: “I still had a lot of questions about why Sean Penn felt his past experiences qualified him to bring the story of my brother to the big screen,” she writes. OMG. OK, I know it was important to accurately portray her brother’s story but this kind of cockiness got on my nerves. And it ran through the whole book. “I don’t even drink coffee!!” “I go to church every week!” “I never ever drink to excess!” Maybe in the end she just sounds young and the writing alternates from fairly good to grating.

  21. 4 out of 5

    M

    I am pretty surprised by the vehemence of some reader's opinions after reading this book. These readers who think Carine McCandless is whining about her upper middle class childhood, should count themselves lucky, because they have clearly never suffered in this way with their own parent(s). I think having something off with one or both parents, but not being able to vocalize it without censure and judgments from people who don't understand, is an extremely painful byproduct of growing up with p I am pretty surprised by the vehemence of some reader's opinions after reading this book. These readers who think Carine McCandless is whining about her upper middle class childhood, should count themselves lucky, because they have clearly never suffered in this way with their own parent(s). I think having something off with one or both parents, but not being able to vocalize it without censure and judgments from people who don't understand, is an extremely painful byproduct of growing up with parents like these. Children who have been emotionally abused will recognize the classic symptoms very well. Suddenly, WHY Chris McCandless wanted to prove himself in such a way makes sense. It's clear why he wanted nothing to do with his parents after he graduated college. It's sad that his sister struggled so hard to keep peace between the family members, but ultimately realized that her parents would never change. At that point, she realized it was time to clear the air and try to explain her brother's point of view. Of course it's impossible to diagnose somebody from reading about them, but Walt McCandless demonstrates many of the characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I'm not sure if Billie is also narcissistic or simply a classic enabler; I'm guessing the latter. I don't think Carine's motive was to vilify her parents. I think she is seeking to bridge the gap between Chris' feelings and inner thoughts, as well as how little her parents understand him. Ultimately, this memoir doesn't change anything that has captivated fans of Chris McCandless, but it does help explain how he came to set off as Alexander Supertramp in the first place. Like many others, I have been haunted by this charismatic young man who didn't see another human soul for more than 110 days, before his lonely death in the Alaskan wilderness. Reading this account by his sister helps me know him a little bit better.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    This was a very insightful read and whilst I'd wished that I had read Into the Wild before I read this, it still didn't detract from my enjoyment. Having also seen the film version of Into The Wild I was not completely in the dark about the story of Chris McCandless. Although this was probably more a memoir of Carine's life there was enough in the story and a lot about Chris and their family life to make it interesting. Also Carine's own story and all that she has had to endure as well as her co This was a very insightful read and whilst I'd wished that I had read Into the Wild before I read this, it still didn't detract from my enjoyment. Having also seen the film version of Into The Wild I was not completely in the dark about the story of Chris McCandless. Although this was probably more a memoir of Carine's life there was enough in the story and a lot about Chris and their family life to make it interesting. Also Carine's own story and all that she has had to endure as well as her connection to Chris and involvement with the book and film of his life and death makes for quite an interesting and in parts emotional read. I'm glad that in my search for Krakauer's book I came across this one. It really is a sad and tragic story and one that has it's origins, like many similar stories, in the family dynamics. It is heartening too to see that some family bonds can never be broken, no matter what the obstacles may be.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Reading this from the point of view of a psychiatric nurse, I may have seen what others may have missed. There is no way a kid could come out of this messed up family without being messed up too. Carine is open about her mistakes, but she doesn't relate her own dysfunction to her bad marriages or her brother's isolation, even from her. In fact, she idealizes Chris when in all probability he had mental problems. What I didn't like was her constant harping about her awful parents. The reader figur Reading this from the point of view of a psychiatric nurse, I may have seen what others may have missed. There is no way a kid could come out of this messed up family without being messed up too. Carine is open about her mistakes, but she doesn't relate her own dysfunction to her bad marriages or her brother's isolation, even from her. In fact, she idealizes Chris when in all probability he had mental problems. What I didn't like was her constant harping about her awful parents. The reader figured this out shortly into her memoir. She herself was the epitome of insanity---letting them back into her life over and over and then relenting when they seemed to have changed. It just became painfully boring.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    Having parents that get drunk and fight sucks no matter what your financial status is, buuuuuuuuut, when your super rich it kind of makes you sound whiny and stompy to write about it. The idea that this is the whole truth not previously told to redeem the decisions of her brother to wander off into the Alaskan wilderness, seems like just a way to draw people in. Her brother is a prominent character in this for sure, but it really seems to be more about a rant on her crappy parents, who she never Having parents that get drunk and fight sucks no matter what your financial status is, buuuuuuuuut, when your super rich it kind of makes you sound whiny and stompy to write about it. The idea that this is the whole truth not previously told to redeem the decisions of her brother to wander off into the Alaskan wilderness, seems like just a way to draw people in. Her brother is a prominent character in this for sure, but it really seems to be more about a rant on her crappy parents, who she never gave up hope on. I got the sense that she truly believes in her role as victim, but in the grand scheme of things has no idea how easy her life is in comparison to so many others.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    4.5 stars This was an exceptionally powerful read. In the summer of last year, my boyfriend and I both read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, and we felt so moved by Chris McCandless' story; and in our being so moved by it, we felt incredibly saddened by the scorn that it drew from some readers, at Chris' "selfishness", "arrogance", "recklessness", et cetera. Speaking for myself, I remember feeling that while I didn't necessarily agree with all of Chris' decisions, namely in severing all communicati 4.5 stars This was an exceptionally powerful read. In the summer of last year, my boyfriend and I both read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, and we felt so moved by Chris McCandless' story; and in our being so moved by it, we felt incredibly saddened by the scorn that it drew from some readers, at Chris' "selfishness", "arrogance", "recklessness", et cetera. Speaking for myself, I remember feeling that while I didn't necessarily agree with all of Chris' decisions, namely in severing all communication with his family once committing to a life "in the wild", I sympathised deeply with him and his plight. But from Krakauer's book, I think we can gauge that there is more to the story than we as the reader can see, and so it is unfair for anyone to judge Chris and the decisions he made. We can't possibly know the whole story. This is where Carine McCandless steps in. Three years younger than her brother, she and Chris shared an extremely close bond growing up. This is evident in the fact that she insisted on delaying her wedding until her brother returned from his travels, so that he could walk her down the aisle as opposed to her father. But unfortunately, this was not to be. His death in 1992 completely devastated her. At the time when Krakauer was researching and writing his book, she opened up to him about the reasons why Chris left as he did, the sheer unhappiness they'd both felt in an abusive childhood home, but asked him to keep this information out of his book. After all, Carine was just twenty-one years old when she met Krakauer, and though her relationship with her parents was fragile, she was still holding out hope that they might be able to change, particularly in the wake of Chris' death. Krakauer agreed, and instead faced the challenge of hinting at Chris' unhappiness as a child, and the abuse and falsehoods he'd been subjected to, without saying it explicitly. Yet, as she details in this memoir, the immediate success that Into the Wild found only fuelled her parents' untruths; they nodded along when people spoke up about Chris' cutting them off unfairly, nodded along when some readers wrote him off as a self-absorbed, teenage-like rebel intent on tormenting his family, claiming that "children can be harsh judges when it comes to their parents", and chose not to acknowledge the astronomical part they had to play in it. Carine started to feel as though she had done her brother a disservice, by trying to protect them from exposing the truth about their inadequacy as parents, watching as they rode the sympathy wave, painting themselves as martyrs, and refused to learn from their mistakes. As she says in the book, she feels that as humans, we all make mistakes, and we should all be given the chance to learn from them. But they chose not to. And this is where The Wild Truth rose from. I won't detail the abuse, both physical and emotional, that Carine McCandless delves into, but it is shocking to say the least; and it is clear the writing and eventual publication of this book came as a last resort, having tried to mend the relationship between herself and her parents many times over. But at the end of the day, it is a testament to Chris, and the truth. Having already read Into the Wild, it certainly sheds light on the reasons why he ultimately shrugged off the burden of his family and resigned himself to a life lived alone - which he believed he wanted - and at one with nature. My only sadness is that he didn't stay in communication with Carine herself for the last two years of his life, but if he had, he wouldn't have been free of his parents, and that is the sad truth of it. They had their claws in deep, and he'd had enough. Chris aside, I think it was extremely brave of Carine to publish this memoir, as well as the hope she expresses that it will inspire others who have experienced similar traumas to seek help and speak out. Within this and Krakauer's original book, the memory and spirit Chris McCandless lives on, and it will continue to live on for as long as it is read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    I received this book as a First Reads. I love memoirs, especially memoirs that serve as a counterpoint to an existing story, and for that I appreciate this book. It took me awhile, though, to grasp what was eating at me about the story. In the end, Carine McCandless committed the same sin as Jon Krakauer by mythologizing her brother - and herself to a certain extent. Aside from a passing mention of Chris' temper in the bowling alley, he could do no wrong. For a woman who has been through so much I received this book as a First Reads. I love memoirs, especially memoirs that serve as a counterpoint to an existing story, and for that I appreciate this book. It took me awhile, though, to grasp what was eating at me about the story. In the end, Carine McCandless committed the same sin as Jon Krakauer by mythologizing her brother - and herself to a certain extent. Aside from a passing mention of Chris' temper in the bowling alley, he could do no wrong. For a woman who has been through so much I expect more perspective and introspection. Carine comes across as the ever-suffering sainted daughter/sister/wife/mother, and all that befalls her is someone else's fault. Her parents sound like awful people but given the author's inability to depict any kind of nuance, I found some of the scenes hard to swallow. I now am eager for the counterpoint to her counterpoint and the opportunity for more perspective, and, without that, this book felt hollow.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Khris Sellin

    Written by Carine McCandless, the sister of the "Into the Wild guy," this book shares the painful past and the abuse Carine and Chris suffered at the hands of their parents. She wanted people to know Chris wasn't just some spoiled rich kid going off ill prepared on some crazy adventure, and he wasn't suicidal. But he was trying to escape from his parents and take some time to figure out where he fit in the world. It's a touching tribute to her brother and a study in self-analysis, revisiting her Written by Carine McCandless, the sister of the "Into the Wild guy," this book shares the painful past and the abuse Carine and Chris suffered at the hands of their parents. She wanted people to know Chris wasn't just some spoiled rich kid going off ill prepared on some crazy adventure, and he wasn't suicidal. But he was trying to escape from his parents and take some time to figure out where he fit in the world. It's a touching tribute to her brother and a study in self-analysis, revisiting her own mistakes in life and how their childhood shaped the people they would become.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pers

    This was a difficult book. I picked it up because I found it while looking for 'Into the Wild' and was curious about what this "truth" was. I assumed, wrongly, that perhaps the former book had been unauthorised somehow but that wasn't the case. It's best, IMO, to understand 'The Wild Truth' as a sequel and corrective to 'Into the Wild.' While the family had cooperated on and authorised ITW, Chris' sister, Carine, had barred the author of that work from mentioning the domestic abuse that went on This was a difficult book. I picked it up because I found it while looking for 'Into the Wild' and was curious about what this "truth" was. I assumed, wrongly, that perhaps the former book had been unauthorised somehow but that wasn't the case. It's best, IMO, to understand 'The Wild Truth' as a sequel and corrective to 'Into the Wild.' While the family had cooperated on and authorised ITW, Chris' sister, Carine, had barred the author of that work from mentioning the domestic abuse that went on in their household and that she felt motivated much of how Chris thought and what he did. This book is her attempt to fill in the gaps and push back against the public opinion shaped by ITW that Chris was just a reckless, possibly mentally ill young man with no regard for his loving family. While the book, like ITW, purports to be about Chris' story, it really isn't. This is Carine McCandless' autobiography and wow, this woman has been through enough to warrant her one. Because Chris was so solitary, it was, in fairness, probably very difficult for her and for Jon Krakauer, ITW's author, to really write any sort of lengthy biography of him and so they've both written about themselves and those around Chris so that Chris' shape emerges. I say this book is difficult not just because of its central theme of domestic abuse but because there are various signs that the author herself is still suffering its effects even though she doesn't seem to see herself that way. She spends a great deal of time (this book could probably stand to be much shorter) repeatedly condemning her mother for never severing ties with her father. She just cannot understand why a woman would stay with an abuser and go back to him, over and over. What the book outlines, however, is Carine's repetition of this same behaviour for years and years, even after she becomes a mother, with her abusive parents. She has many heart to hearts with them, writes them a few threatening letters, swears she will cut them off forever if they don't change, and then continues to have contact with them, turn to them in times of trouble, accept loans and gifts from them, vacation and visit with them, etc. In fact, the first people thanked in the acknowledgements, right after God, are her mother and father. The author seems to still be unaware at the time of writing of how much her love-hate behaviour mirrors her mother's and so the long diatribes against her mom and the self-satisfied recountings of how she she stood up to her parents and is so much wiser and stronger start to wear on the reader. There is actually not a lot of self-reflection going on, more just recollection. It's also difficult because of the completely uncritical eye Carine has trained on her brother. Despite the fact that he cut off contact with her as well, he can do absolutely no wrong in her eyes and she is utterly unwilling to consider that he might have made a bad decision, might have been mentally unwell, might have handled things differently and better. Hers is the only authoritative voice on all things Chris and her voice says he is a hero and a great philosopher, no less. Perhaps this is a natural reaction against all the criticism of him in the public but I'd have expected a bit less lionizing and a bit more consideration of how being the victim of domestic abuse might have impacted his choices for better or for worse. Since she seems hesitant to see this even in her string of failed marriages though, it is probably very difficult to see the impact on another, absent person. Overall, it is an interesting book that definitely does shed more light onto who Chris was or at least where he came from and what may have motivated his actions. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoyed ITW and would like to hear more of the story. I'd say the best order to read/view in would be 'Into the Wild' followed by 'The Wild Truth' followed by the 'Into the Wild' film since Carine talks a lot about the filming and her thoughts on different directorial choices in her book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gena Smith

    Incredibly disappointing. In his forward, Krakauer mentions that this book is intended for those who didn’t “get it” the first time round as to why Chris McCandless left. I must have “got it” through Into the Wild because this book offered little new information. I picked it up expecting to learn even more about the man that so many are fascinated with, hoping to discover something unknown and something surprising, as Carine promises to right the “constant misconceptions” of Chris on the cover. Incredibly disappointing. In his forward, Krakauer mentions that this book is intended for those who didn’t “get it” the first time round as to why Chris McCandless left. I must have “got it” through Into the Wild because this book offered little new information. I picked it up expecting to learn even more about the man that so many are fascinated with, hoping to discover something unknown and something surprising, as Carine promises to right the “constant misconceptions” of Chris on the cover. However, Chris merely had a cameo in a book that was largely about her (and her relationships in which Chris was completely uninvolved yet took up a large chunk of the book). I understood from Into the Wild that the family dynamic was toxic and that it played a role in Chris’s desire to leave, and it could have been left at that. But taking Carine’s claims as the major point of the book—and I do believe her and her claims of abuse to be accurate—somehow it doesn’t seem warranted. When the focus turns from her father’s temper and harsh violence to “he had pot and porn in the house” it becomes a bit self-indulgent and makes me question the intentions of the work. And while none of us knew Chris (although so many of us feel like we do), something doesn’t sit right with me about this tell-all. If this book is intended to be for Chris’s benefit… I suppose I think back to Carine’s description of the wrong color of flowers on her wedding cake, and knowing Chris would laugh at her for caring and tell her that it doesn’t change anything; the cake is still a cake, who cares about the color? The family is what it is, and this book won’t change that, just as it didn’t much change what the audience knew about her brother. The Wild Truth is a hate-letter to the McCandless parents, and though it may be completely deserved, it’s not what was promised. For those interested in Carine, this would be excellent and incredibly fascinating; it’s well written and she does a fantastic job of outlining her life and struggles. However, if you’re hoping to learn more about Chris, unfortunately, reading this would likely feel redundant. Two final notes: 1) the premise of the book is that Carine didn’t divulge the “whole truth” which, in the forward, is implied to be in the form of raw and emotional letters between the siblings. Only one letter is really touched on and even then, the excerpt is brief. Aside from that, they are mostly non existent in the book. 2) the only time through the entire book that I felt at all sincerely touched and emotional came from something Sean Penn is quoted as saying in the last few chapters regarding his Into the Wild screenplay. I felt again disappointed that this writer/reader connection came from someone other than the actual author of the book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    L

    This book was a difficult read for me. I've heard that this book can be hard to get through because it "doesn't illuminate Chris's story any further", but I have to highly disagree with that point. This book was difficult for me to get through because I've always seen in Chris a part of myself, but this book illuminated Carine McCandless in the same way for me: In her I saw my own sister. As two siblings growing up in a highly abusive household, my sister and I also saw our fair share of deceptio This book was a difficult read for me. I've heard that this book can be hard to get through because it "doesn't illuminate Chris's story any further", but I have to highly disagree with that point. This book was difficult for me to get through because I've always seen in Chris a part of myself, but this book illuminated Carine McCandless in the same way for me: In her I saw my own sister. As two siblings growing up in a highly abusive household, my sister and I also saw our fair share of deceptions, of our parents pitting us against them, forcing us to "choose a side" during divorce talks that never happened, watching physical and verbal abuse take place, etc. Reading the Wild Truth brought my childhood right back to me, some parts I had even tried and succeed for a long time to forget. Reading Carine struggling to bring her family back together, sure that she could "fix" her parents or that her parents would see their ways, was upsetting to me for one reason: In it, I saw my sister. I saw how Carine suffered and remembered my own siblings suffering, that continues even now, because she simply won't give up on the idea that their parent will see the light of day and become their cherished memory again. I have always understood Chris's reasoning for cutting his parents out of his life in lieu of disappearing into the woods, and been confused when people claimed to not understand how he could be so selfish. To them, I guess, I counter with this: After reading this book, I can't understand why anyone would take the road that keeps them tethered to their abusive history the way that Chris's sister, and my own, did. It baffles me. But the fact that she lived to finally see the truth in her parents deception and cut them off-both for her own good as well as that of her family, left me hopeful.

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