By Emily Preble
Jesuit Crusader (Portland, Oregon)
Each year, students are assigned some extent of summer reading before they book out the door and busy themselves burning old binders.
Each year, I find myself procrastinating this reading until the last possible minute.
As a rising sophomore last year, however, I decided to be more proactive and knock my reading requirement out during the early stretch of summer vacation. Checking the list given to me by my teacher, I went out and purchased Into the Wild by John Krakauer, just as the sophomores of years past did and the sophomores to come will.
I soon found myself enthralled with the story of Chris McCandless. Originally a well-off college graduate, Chris decided to hitchhike across America in search of something greater only to tragically meet his end deep in the wilds of Alaska.
After finishing Into the Wild and discussing it in class, I still felt I had a lot of unanswered questions. After completing my essay a few weeks later, I managed to put it out of my mind and allow my ponderings about Chris McCandless to go unaddressed.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned about the new memoir The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless. In her book, Carine, Chris’ sister, shares the childhood traumas that add a touching dept to the story of Chris McCandless while also describing some of her own attempts to transcend a troubled past.
After reading The Wild Truth, any remaining questions I had about Chris’ life were answered. Throughout the book, I repeatedly caught myself reeling at the revelatory transcripts of life in the McCandless household; the raw details add an entirely different dimension to Krakauer’s novel.
The first portion of the book spends time outlining everything in between Chris and Carine’s upbringing through to Chris’s death. Complete with painful memories of physical conflict between Carine and her parents, readers are enlightened to the fuel of the fire that sparked Chris’ leaving.
The novel also contains many of the letters between Chris and Carine that were absent from Krakauer’s book by request of Carine herself. The letters unveil the unquestionably broken relationship between Chris and Carine and their parents, detailing memories of abuse and misconduct.
The latter half of the book takes the focus off of her turbulent childhood and instead keys in on her shift of emotions about her brother’s death. From anger to grief to acceptance, the book’s anecdotes took me through it all with Carine and I was able to understand a more realistic take on the story of Chris McCandless.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Krakauer’s Into the Wild; The Wild Truth is a real, moving novel that inspires and enlightens followers of Chris McCandless’ story.