Jon Krakauer,
Into the Wild
(Villard, 1996; Anchor, 2007)

I had previously enjoyed Jon Krakuer's book Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. Thinking that Into the Wild would be of similar high quality, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had made a wise choice.

Krakuer's work tends to stick with you long after you have finished the book. I originally purchased Into the Wild back in 1997. My son borrowed it for a while and then it landed at my mother's house, where she finished reading it this year. Somehow, it made it back home to my bookcase.

Into the Wild tells the story of Christopher McCandless, who gave up a good life to live as a hermit and die of starvation in an abandoned bus in Alaska.

The writing is first rate as the author takes us on the journey he made trying to understand the mindset of this intense, misguided young man. I have personally known a few young men and women that fit into this stubborn idealism. While their thoughts and dreams are noble, they are never quite prepared for that heavy dose of reality that life sometimes rains down on our heads.

Throughout the book, I felt an extreme sadness for the family that he left back home. As a parent of five children, I can only imagine the anguish that filled each day of their lives.

While some may admire McCandless's courage, I can only read this from the aforementioned perch of parenthood. Therefore, I come away with a different conclusion than the author. I am not saying his opinion is wrong. Just different.

The book is well written, with good pacing and just the right amount of tangents. This is highly recommended for those who enjoy well-versed nonfiction.

book review by
Michael L. Gooch

27 November 2010

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