Review: Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis

y450-293Synopsis: On her second night of college, Aspen was raped by a fellow student. Overprotected by her parents who discouraged her from telling of the attack, Aspen was confused and ashamed. Dealing with a problem that has sadly become all too common on college campuses around the country, she stumbled through her first semester—a challenging time made even harder by the coldness of her college’s “conflict mediation” process. Her desperation growing, she made a bold decision: She would seek healing in the freedom of the wild, on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail leading from Mexico to Canada.

Title: Girl in the Woods
Author: Aspen Matis
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub Date: 10th February 15
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780062291066

Rating: 3stars

I’m at odds with this book; so much so that I’m not quite sure how to review it.

Firstly, I think the problem was that I expected this to be a fiction. A friend gave me the book and I didn’t bother reading the blurb or the cover (I trust said friend’s taste in book choices). So my first problem was getting over the fact that it was a memoir.

I also found the writing quite heavy-handed. The book needed a much stricter proof-reader; with a lot of writing-as-therapy ramblings, there just wasn’t enough space for descriptive text. Granted, this is a memoir about a girl’s journey in healing and forgiveness, but it’s also a story about one of the most beautiful hikes in America. Yet the scenery seemed rushed and events (hiking through a forest fire, for example) were covered in a few sentences.

Writing style aside, the memoir is a touching one. What I felt about the text doesn’t really matter – I was reading about a person’s life and struggles. I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done in her place – would I have screamed? Would I ever be in that situation? Would I tell anyone? How would my family have reacted?

You connect with each scenario and the repercussions of her choices. Like her or loathe her, you’ll find yourself fighting her corner. Wanting to shake her when she makes the same mistakes and sharing her joy when she takes a step forward.

So where does A Girl in the Woods sit? As a book, it’s not the best read in the world. As a life-lesson, I think it’s hugely important. Personally, I would have appreciated it more if I had started knowing a bit more about the memoir – but that’s my fault for reading something without looking at it properly!

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