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The Bear's Embrace: A Story of Survival

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
On a chilly autumn morning in 1983, during a relaxing escape to the Canadian Rockies, Patricia Van Tighem and her husband were attacked by a grizzly bear. Although they survived, their ordeal was just beginning. For years Van Tighem endured numerous surgeries as doctors attempted to reconstruct her face and ease her pain. The nightmares that haunted her carried their own p ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Anchor (first published September 1st 2001)
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Sep 10, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing
I bought The Bear's Embrace after hearing Ann Kingman talk about it on Books On The Nightstand Episode #38, Remarkable Lives...

I knew when I started this book that it would be painful to read, so why put myself through it? I thought it might give me an insight into what it takes to survive and thought surely it would end feeling hopeful. It was not to be as simple as that. .

Each reader will take something different from The Bear's Embrace. For me, that Patricia Van Tighem can share her story in
May 22, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing
This book both terrified and touched me so deeply, I finished reading it in less than 24 hours. I live in the same city as the author, and also have a adventurous spirit, therefore many of the locations and hikes she describes in the book are places i have been, places close to home for me. I, like trish and trevor, visit the mountains often for hikes and skiing. For this reason, this story terrified me, thinking that such a horrific experience could quite literally happen to anyone. Hearing on ...more
Judy Herzanek
Jan 07, 2013 Judy Herzanek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bear-attacks
This story is so much more than what I was expecting. What Patricia endured is truly mind-boggling. Her journey is written in a way that is honest, transparent and straightforward. Her struggle was just as much, a mental one as well as physical.

The author was able to pack so much into some of the very short paragraphs. I found myself going back to re-read parts, slowly thinking and imagining what things were like for her.

As a society, we are so often used to reading stories of triumph and overco
Sep 17, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Terrifying, heartbreaking...what she went through is tragic. I found this really hard to read, despite it being written so well...the hike that she gets attacked on is one I did earlier this summer. We hike often with our kids and I just couldn't get the "what ifs" out of my head. Obviously even sadder is that she eventually committed suicide in 2005, after years of operations and pain.
Aug 09, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it
Well-written autobiography describing the author's life-long struggle with depression as a result of being attacked and disfigured by a bear. A hauntingly tragic story.
Valerie Bradley
Jun 19, 2017 Valerie Bradley rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago and think about it often. It was very well written and you really could feel what the author went through. Harrowing but good.
Maudeen Wachsmith
Patricia "Trish" van Tighem - a vicacious, pretty young nurse and her pediatric resident husband of three years are out hiking when they are mauled by a grizzly bear. This is the story of the ensuing 15 years including the many surgeries Patricia went through and her depression that ensued as a result of the pain she has had to endure along with the disfiguration caused by the attack.

Trish and Trevor had everything going for them when they, two experienced backpackers, took a well-deserved week
Mar 15, 2015 Robin rated it it was amazing
What a personal account of a harrowing incident. The late Patricia Tighem wrote this with raw honest, So that not only are you grabbed from the very first chapter,you are taken on a life after accident journey to the depths, of how this horrible incident left a woman who should have been cared for on more than the physical levels by the medical community. Instead each Dr.became less interested in her own description of her pain. And sadly, more interested in what the limits of medical science ha ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Cat. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author and her husband--a nurse and a doctor--went hiking in 1983 a happy-go-lucky young couple in their mid-20s. In the midst of their hike, they were attacked by a grizzly and were fortunate enough to make it to medical facilities in time for their lives to be saved. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of their return to passably "normal" lives. The bear nearly destroyed both the carotid and the femoral arteries of her husband, but he eventually regained the use of all his limbs and ...more
Apr 05, 2016 Spuddie rated it it was ok
I chose this book for a category of my 2016 Reading Challenge to read a book where an animal plays a large role in the story. I fear I didn't choose very wisely. The story was a compelling one--about a young woman who was mauled by a bear in the Canadian woods while backpacking with her husband. She survived, and went through hellish recovery, many surgeries, and found herself altered in ways that had nothing to do with her physical appearance.

Unfortunately, she's not a very good writer, so the
Jennifer Miera
Apr 23, 2008 Jennifer Miera rated it liked it
I thought I had poorly rated and reviewed this book when I read it years ago, but it appears I didn't write a review of it at the time. I recall that I got rather fed up with Van Tighem's inability to function even years after her attack, but now, I'm reconsidering. When I think about how even mere images from the news or horror movies can haunt me for ages, I can definitely feel for her and her experience. After having a bear rip your face off, blind and disfigure you, and having to live in chr ...more
This book is a moving account of a woman who was used as a chew toy by a grizzly bear. Ms. Van Tighem went through hell!! Not only was she fighting the pain and nightmares of the bear attack, she was also in an even more gruelling (well at least in my mind anyway) battle with healthcare and the systems (plural as she used healthcare in different provinces and countries) supposedly designed to help people.

It is no secret that Ms. Van Tighem's demon of pain and depression finally won out. The surp
Apr 26, 2011 Fran rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patricia Van Tighem and her husband survived a horrendous grizzly bear attack. This is a story of coping in the aftermath. She endured many, many surgeries in the years following the attack, bouts of severe depression, regular nightmares and constant stares when in public because of her scars. It's definitely not an uplifting, positive book but her story is an eye-opener to the dangers of the wild, dealing with depression and the stigma in society of physical scars, blemishes and disfigurement.
Apr 06, 2013 Marlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very well written - not an easy read. I cried with her and for her, for all that she had to endure. The courage of this woman is jaw dropping, inspiring. I think everyone who looks after the sick and injured should read this book. It is so insightful to how not to deal with severe trauma patients. I'll just add another Wow because I haven't really processed the whole story yet, I think this one story will settle deep inside, providing a subconsious emotional well that will be drawn upon ...more
Shelly Delyzer
Aug 06, 2016 Shelly Delyzer rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book made me have a knot in my stomach. I so feel for Patricia. An incredible story of a young woman and her husband being attacked by a bear. What she endured through her life I will never forget. A book about living with mental illness and describing exactly what it feels like. So glad in this day and age mental health is looked at differently. It really mad me want to yell and scream at those doctors and nurses in that phyc ward. God bless Patricia's family and I so hope she found p ...more
Jill Robbertze
Aug 27, 2015 Jill Robbertze rated it it was amazing
This is a very emotional book to read - It is heart-wrenching and painful to read what this woman went through but at the same time I am really glad that have read it because, although it's a really sad true story, it makes one realize how precious our health and life is. It has also made me a little more wary and respectful of the usually unaggressive Black Bears that I see quite often in our neighbourhood as we live in a residential area of Vancouver in the foothills of the forested Coastal Mo ...more
Vincent Desjardins
Jan 26, 2010 Vincent Desjardins rated it it was amazing
This story of a woman who survived a grizzly bear attack is one of the most gripping true-life tales I have ever read. I came away with so much admiration for this brave woman who, following the attack, endured years of illness and depression, all the while trying to raise four children and be a loving wife. So desperate will you be to find out how her story ends, that I can almost guarantee you will not want to put this book down. An unforgettable testimony to one remarkable woman’s spirit.
Apr 27, 2009 Renee rated it it was amazing
it is full of tragedy; so that is really sad; but i LOVE to read about how people deal with REALLY hard tragedies. i am nearly always inspired and am helped to deal with the difficulties in my life. that is what this book did. it is a pretty amazing book. i REALLY liked reading it, even though it is sad; because, like, i said, it was very inspirational, too. and just reading about the outrageous experiences that patricia went through was VERY interesting.
Jan 10, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it
This book is a fascinating read, but at times a difficult one. The author survives a grizzly bear attack, and endures multiple surgeries and long hospital stays to recover from the damage inflicted by the bear. She ends up suffering from severe PTSD and debilitating depression as a result, which comes through heavily in the later chapters, but it's still an amazing story. Apparently the author eventually committed suicide. Very sad.
It is amazing Patricia and her husband Trevor survived the bear attack. She is both strong and weak in her survival and dealing with the aftermath. With the way she has written this book you can feel the raw emotion of heartache and strength.
This is not a quick read due to the subject but a quick read because you just don't want to put it down. I highly recommend this tear-jerker.
Mar 21, 2010 Rosie rated it really liked it
Very sad story, but I like reading about real life struggles of the human process. We all struggle differently, and when we come out on the other end stronger, it's beautiful. Unfortunately she fights with an unbearable depression and awful anxiety after being attacked by a grizzly...and she fights it the rest of her life...
Nov 17, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wendy by: books on the nightstand
Recommended by Ann and Michael of Books on the Nightstand, I read this book from start to finish in one sitting
I really appreciated the author's intimate sharing of her mental suffering and was quite taken in by the story. Such a personal story. Read if you like understanding how others endure tragedy.
Mar 15, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it
An vivid account of a grizzly attack in Wateron Lakes National Park. Waterton is one of my very favorite places on earth and is where Dave and I were married. This particular attack takes place at Crypt Lake, a notoriously beary place in the park. The story takes you through the LONG healing process of the victims.
Apr 07, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting book on how much a person can be changed by the tragedies that happen to them and how the affects can linger forever. I have a terrible fear of bears so this was even more complelling to me.
May 22, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
If you are like me and enjoy a gory survival story from time to time, you will like this one. I don't mean to make light of this woman's ordeal at all. Remarkable courage and love and perseverance here.
Molly Shubert
Mar 31, 2014 Molly Shubert rated it it was ok
Very honest and revealing of internal processes. I got stuck in the repetition, though; I'm sure the author did too, in her life; however I longed for some kind of resolution or further depth by the end of the story.
Dec 12, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Fascinating yet disturbing. Would read again and recommend. An true story of survival by a woman who was attacked by a grizzly bear. Title comes from Indian legend a nurse once told Patricia . . . those who survive a bear attack absorb the power of the bear.
Nov 17, 2016 Carolynn rated it it was amazing
The story of a woman's survival after having been attacked by a bear. She lost the left side of her face and endured years of reconstructive surgeries, constant pain and depression for the remainder of her life. Such a gripping story that I finished it in a day!
Aug 07, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing
Attacked by a grizzly bear, the author, in a very unique writing style, tells her story during and after the attack, and including the long years of her recovery from her horrific face and head mutilations. This was a book I found hard to put down.
Joanne Nussbaum
Jan 16, 2016 Joanne Nussbaum rated it it was amazing
Wow. What a powerful tale of torment, PTSD, and a life ravaged by a bear attack.......This should be on your Must Read List!
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