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Torch

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3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  4,752 Ratings  ·  621 Reviews
In her debut novel, Torch, bestselling author Cheryl Strayed weaves a searing and luminous tale of a family's grief after unexpected loss. "Work hard. Do good. Be incredible!" is the advice Teresa Rae Wood shares with the listeners of her local radio show, Modern Pioneers, and the advice she strives to live by every day. She has fled a bad marriage and rebuilta life with h ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published September 12th 2012 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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jo
Feb 26, 2012 jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i'm kind of moved to see so many people review this now that cheryl strayed has finally told us she is sugar of the rumpus (she "came out" on valentine's day, 2012). sugar is so much loved, so much justly loved, that her readers are flocking to her books and her articles to read more by her.

if you have followed sugar's advice columns (and they are NOT ordinary advice columns: they are masterpieces of wisdom, wit, beauty, and life) this book won't entirely surprise you. it belongs with the same p
...more
Tracie
Jan 26, 2012 Tracie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After everyone freaked out about Wild (which is not available for normal people to read/buy yet) I had to find out who this Cheryl Strayed person is, so I got her first book.

I have a hard time with this star system. Three is too low, but that's what my gut is telling me now that's it's been a week since I've finished it. There were times, a lot of times, where I LOVED this book. It's incredibly well written and Strayed has a way of phrasing super complex emotional/feeling things in ways that ma
...more
Monika
Sep 25, 2012 Monika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's not often that I don't finish a book. I fell in love with Cheryl Strayed after reading Wild and Dear Sugar, so I was looking forward to consuming everything I could get my hands on. It's clear, though, that Torch isn't what made her for a reason. There is nothing wrong with the book, it just isn't very compelling. After reading the other books and being familiar with Strayed's story, I can't help but think of this as more of a therapeutic writing project for her to explore her feelings abou ...more
Erica Verrillo
Oct 20, 2012 Erica Verrillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I confess that when I first picked up this book, I had no intention of bringing it home with me. Who wants to read about death and its terrible aftermath--loss, grief, anger? As it turns out--I did.

From the very first sentence, I was hooked. I read the second sentence, and third and fourth, until I realized that I would rather be reading it at home than standing in an aisle. As soon as I got home I opened the book and read it non-stop for two days. I devoured every single word.

What is amazing ab
...more
Susan
Mar 20, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Sometimes a book becomes more than a book...for me, usually it is a book of poetry, or a poem in particular, something to hang on to when things are not going well. You know those days/weeks/God help you if it's months, when things just falling badly like dominos, one falling brick after another, until you are wondering if there is an ancient gypsy curse on your family or what. This has been my March. A friend had recommended awhile ago that I read an essay in The Sun by Cheryl Strayed which led ...more
Rivka
Jan 12, 2012 Rivka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always think of Anne Carson's preface to Euripides when I think about grief: "Why does tragedy exist? Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief." This kept coming up for me throughout Torch.

I found myself watching the writing and reading the book as though a close friend had written it (the writing felt very familiar, as though I read it weekly, as though I stamped some particular turns of phrase into my memory) and it reminded me that if I start wr
...more
Laura Lemay
Aug 26, 2013 Laura Lemay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013


I am another newcomer to Cheryl Strayed via the Dear Sugar column. This was my first "real" CS book, and I knew going in that it was her first novel, and very autobiographical.

On the one hand, this is a really dark, harrowing, moving, emotional book. It's about a mother who dies of cancer at 38 and how her family falls apart and does horrible things to each other in the aftermath, and how they start to rebuild their lives and relationships afterwards. A funny fast-paced romp, great for the beac
...more
Katie Kenig
I picked up Torch from the library because I loved loved loved "Wild," Cheryl Strayed's memoir of her trek along the Pacific Coast Trail. I identified with her. I liked her style, I liked her writing, and I loved her story. When I found out that she'd published a work of fiction some seven years ago, I couldn't resist!

I might should have resisted.

It's not so much that this is a bad book, but this is a very thinly veiled memoir of what actually happened to Strayed, much of which you will already
...more
Ashley
Sep 09, 2012 Ashley rated it did not like it
I'm really unsure why this book has gotten so many good reviews. There was nothing endearing or redeeming about it. I understand flawed characters, but there was nothing remotely likable about any of them, including their relationships with each other. If it is a story about a mother's love and her legacy to her children, then it was a poor example. If it is a book about coping, and stages of grief, then it is also a poor example. Each character deals in the exact same way- with sex. And there i ...more
Cynthia Sinsap
I purchased the book simply because it was by the author of the memoir "Wild." When I started reading the novel, I had to check the cover a couple times to see if I had put down Torch and accidentally picked up Wild instead. The thought that went through my head at several points in the beginning sections of the book was, "If you copy from yourself, is it still plagiarism?" At one point and entire long paragraph was an exact copy of a paragraph in Wild. Perhaps it wouldn't have irritated me so m ...more
Jane
Jun 26, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend whose significant other died recently of lymphoma lent me this book, and as I read it I wondered how she could bear to read it herself. The painfulness of the topic aside, it's a realistic look at first, the process of dying from cancer, and second, the effect of the death of a young mom on her two kids and their step-dad. Claire, the daughter, is at the U of Minnesota, and her brother is still in high school in a small Minnesota town. Each family member deals with the death differently ...more
Wilhelmina Jenkins
Jul 06, 2012 Wilhelmina Jenkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold". Yeats said it, it has been used a million times, and it is the primary thought that kept recurring to me as I read this heartbreaking book. Teresa, the mother and wife and the core of the family, dies of cancer, and the family grieves and crumbles. Strayed examines the aftermath of this death from the viewpoint of each of those she left behind as they struggle to redefine themselves and their direction without her. Anyone who has lost someone who is c ...more
Melanie
Jul 08, 2012 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cheryl's story is painfully close to home, but she manages to make the telling a healing journey. She is, quite simply, my literary hero.
Laura
Mar 01, 2017 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-heart, made-me-cry
V sad, v beautiful.
Sumi
May 18, 2013 Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Torch immediately after reading Wild, frankly because I was hungry for more of Strayed's writing. I wonder how Torch would read if I hadn't read Wild first, because Torch is definitely a fictional memoir even though I am not sure if Strayed would necessarily say that. (Anyone notice that she says that her brother, unlike the character, was never arrested for dealing meth? That wouldn't rule out the possibility of him having used or dealt meth though, right? ;) Either way, I think knowing ...more
Turi
Sep 24, 2012 Turi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
When I received Torch, I had no idea it would become one of my new favorite books. I'd heard a lot of buzz about Strayed's Wild, which I haven't yet read, but didn't realize what a talented fiction writer she is. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that this is a debut novel, and that the story is the story that Strayed felt she just had to write. Perhaps because of its semi-autobiographical nature, Strayed was able to perfectly illustrate the a family struggling with grief. The characters ...more
Erin
Oct 29, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that isn't about anything really. A woman gets cancer, she dies, her family navigates the aftermath. There's no suspense, no mystery to solve, no secret revealed by her mourning relatives. There is just day to day life and survival after sudden, horrible death strikes a family. In the hands of a lesser writer this would be trite or treacly. In Strayed's hands, this novel is luminous and deeply felt. I felt it deeply, and all of her characters were so deep, and did such ...more
Jen Raffensperger
In the months following Cheryl Strayed's "coming out" as the Dear Sugar advice columnist on The Rumpus, I've devoured her writing. To me this doesn't stand up to Wild, perhaps because it's a fictionalization. Don't let me 3 stars feel lukewarm to you though - they're three enthusiastic stars. Stories of grief, of rapid loss of a parent to cancer specifically hit me in a really personal place. My reaction is probably different from someone who hasn't been through this (although goodness knows man ...more
Christine
Oct 19, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned about opening up while reading this novel. About how to write pain. Cheryl Strayed does a tremendous job capturing grief, a topic that can easily be expressed in a clichéd manner.

She captures the essence of grief in this novel. And the voice! I’d stay hundreds of pages with her.
Kate
Jun 08, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a heavy read, but beautifully written with exceptional character development. If you can handle some tears, it's worth it.
Irunesa
Una novela sobre el duelo, de como cada persona afronta la perdida de diferente manera...
Jessica
Oct 29, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a gorgeous book. My delight in reading books by Cheryl Strayed is now 3-3.
Liz
Jan 31, 2017 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
Oh good lord, this book was difficult to get through as an audiobook. It was so painful to listen along as a family from the same neck of the woods as my own went through the horrible process of losing a loved one, as parts of my family are doing right now, that I almost gave up halfway. I could only make it past that point by setting the playback speed to 1.2x to avoid having to endure the weighty pauses between bouts of family members harming themselves and others in their grief and healing pr ...more
Niki
Apr 12, 2017 Niki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, fiction
I love the way Cheryl Strayed approaches grief and loss in her prose, but there's nothing here that wasn't also explored in the much better Wild. Torch has many of the same roots - dead mother, complex emotional battles from those left behind - but what was an intimate and stunning character portrayal in Strayed's memoir does not translate as well to fiction. Each of the characters felt the same, wooden and over-sexed, as if that were the only way to approach grief. There were a few pockets of p ...more
Brittany
Jul 28, 2009 Brittany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who've lost a loved one
Recommended to Brittany by: Katie Guthmiller
Shelves: given, 2009-reads, romance
Cheryl Strayed writes poignantly classical. Upon immediate reading, you clearly can see that she is not the typical run-of-the-mill modern writer. It was most unfortunate when my highly favorable stance on her writing abilities was shot down time and again when she decided to write so crudely about sex. It wasn't crude in the way a man in a bar might talk about it, but the huge contrast between her clear talent to write and inability to write about sex without swearing really hurt my opinion of ...more
Author Groupie
Jun 25, 2012 Author Groupie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
Having recently inhaled Cheryl Strayed's Wild, I was then eager to read her first novel, Torch. With similar life experiences as the female protagonist Claire- a parent who suffers a gruesome death at the hands of cancer, various familial dysfunction, and a previous longing for the consummate romantic relationship- I bookmarked passage after passage which seemed to have come from my own thought processes during my near-identical life experiences:

Years passed. . . Slowly, stingingly, she forgave
...more
Christy
Aug 03, 2011 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read and been incredibly impressed with this author’s essays and other work and then found her debut novel.

After fleeing a bad marriage, Theresa moves her two children as far away as possible, finds love, her true self and then at way to young, she gets cancer and dies soon after.

This is a story of love and grief and how we deal with pain, numbing it and then struggling to move through it with grace and compassion. It affected me on a profound level.

The characters are real, human, and or
...more
Amy
Oct 27, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I realize that some people in this world - like the characters of this book (and its author, I've learned since finishing it) - turn to sex in times of grief, pain, and loss. Since I'm not one of those people, I felt a bit of a disconnect with the characters after several random sexual encounters in the wake of the loss of their mother.

Strayed is an amazing essayist, but it just didn't translate in the novel genre - or not as strongly as I'd hoped. She definitely writes open-heartedly, baring a
...more
sarah gilbert
'Torch' is a beautiful book that describes the process of losing a mother, a wife, a friend in such luminous detail that you cannot help rethinking your relationship with the people in your life, you cannot help understanding everyone's failings more fully. Cheryl Strayed develops her characters with such complete and unconditional love that it is no surprise to learn the novel is based on events in her own life; it is, however, a surprise to learn how much compassion you have for these characte ...more
Nic Ayson
Feb 19, 2016 Nic Ayson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those books that just called to me from the shelves at the library. Upon reading the reviews I anticipated a somewhat average read but surprisingly I really enjoyed this from start to finish. The sense of loss was very real, the ordinariness of life continuing on with grief largely affecting choices, paths travelled, poor decisions seemed raw and honest. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of sister and brother Clare and Joshua, their relationship was fractured, brutal, genuine ...more
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How death of loved ones changes family dynamics 1 15 Mar 21, 2007 02:47PM  
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Cheryl Strayed is the author of four books: Tiny Beautiful Things, Torch, Brave Enough, and the #1 New York Times bestseller, Wild. She also co-hosts the hit podcast Dear Sugar Radio. You can find a listing of her events and answers to FAQ on her web site: http://www.cherylstrayed.com/
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“It's a long life, sweetheart, and time heals all wounds.” 26 likes
“He was the most ordinary man in all the world, and yet in her memory he'd become luminous, like the prince in a fairy tale.” 22 likes
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