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Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love
"I'm so glad Novella Carpenter has written this book... The resulting journey is both brave and honest."

A Library Journal Best Book of 2014

Novella Carpenter picks up the phone one day to receive some disturbing news: her father has officially gone missing. Carpenter’s father, George—a back-to-t
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 12th 2014 by Penguin Press
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Jan 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
By the second chapter of this book Carpenter has drunk her Lapsang Souchou tea, coyly described what seems a deliberately marginal existence, mentions her (badly kept*) milk goats and managed to mix in a little bit about her mild fretting over her then-missing Dad. She minimizes the 100-hour effort his local PD put into a search for him and mock-chides herself for imagining them spending part of that time drinking coffee and eating donuts. She's just that cool.

Her writing effortlessly pushes eve
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked Carpenter’s first book, “Farm City.” This book focuses primarily on her reclusive father, but also highlights her parent’s marriage, and Carpenter’s lifetime struggle trying to understand her dad’s erratic behavior and what caused his abandonment of the family. She makes several attempts at reconciliation with him.

A friend of her father’s writes to her about her father, “He was like a butterfly, here today, gone tomorrow type of guy. I read once—a friend is one who overlooks your
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one, really.
Recommended to Jessica by: Amazon Vine
Shelves: non-fiction
My Amazon Vine review: Novella Carpenter and I should really be friends - we seem to believe in the same things and have the same hobbies. But I don't like her. At all. And I didn't really care for her book either. I have no idea why this got published. It's not particularly insightful or well-written. There's no story, per se. The attitude is quite self-centered.

I am hesitant (a little) to tell you how uninteresting and mundane this book is because obviously the author feels she has experienced
Story Circle Book Reviews
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
"The need to understand where we came from is universal," Novella Carpenter proclaims in her memoir, Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. Reading her saga, perhaps we come a little closer to understanding the impact on us all of the 1960s counter-cultural back-to-the-land movement and the complex intricacies of parent/child relationships.

Gone Feral opens like a good mystery with attention-grabbing suspense. Not only was I pulled into the narrative, I became immersed in the author's joy
Kate Mcglashan
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I'm from Orofino, Idaho, born nine months before the author. She perfectly depicted our tiny town in the deep woods, making it a nuanced character unto itself. This book has so much to recommend it: straightforwardness, sense of humor, and good pacing (unusual in memoir). Few others will have their homesickness assuaged by this book but I think most people would enjoy it. ...more
Scottsdale Public Library
Novella Carpenter is the author of one of my favorite all time books, Farm City (see Goodreads review!) so I was surprised I had not yet come across her book, Gone Feral, a story about finding and tracking down her father. A slower, more personal read, we glimpse Carpenter’s early years gaining insight on how she was almost destined to one day write Farm City fueled by her predisposition to the living off the land lifestyle, even if in an urban setting. Initially setting off to reconcile a lifet ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: family-stories
I enjoyed this book about a young woman looking for her elusive father. I identified with it on a psychological level, as someone whose father was there, but just as elusive. It was also an interesting look at a subculture of Idaho hippies and the dreams they started with and the elusiveness of those dreams.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, I hadn't planned on reading this book, but a friend loaned it to me, and it was about Idaho, and it wasn't too I thought, why not? It was actually better than I expected! It's interesting how sometimes a book might not be great, but it gets you opening your thoughts to different types of life experiences, as did this one for me.

Novella Carpenter grew up with hippie parents on a remote Idaho farm. Her parents divorced early on, and her dad became a stranger to her. Her growing
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: goodreads
I received an advance copy of this book through a Goodreads give away.

When I read the description of this book, I was expecting the entire book to be about a young woman trying to find her father. That is not what this book is.

Novella's father sends her an email alerting her to his whereabouts and the fact that he is doing well within the first two chapters. The rest of the book is about Novella trying to find herself.

When a woman decides to become a mother, her outlook on life changes. Novella
Oct 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I feel a little mislead by the title and reviews I'd read about this book. Novella Carpenter doesn't so much go on an actual trek to find her "lost" father as much as decide to try to better understand his choices and determine whether she might either pass on defective genetic material to her as not yet conceived baby, or repeat his pattern herself. There is a short period of time early in the book when her father is reported missing, but by the time she actually decides to try to see him again ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I bought this book at the dollar store so I could have something to read on an airplane flight. It was cheaper than a magazine and had more pages.

I found myself looking at the picture of the author at the back of the book multiple times. She seemed like someone I should know. Obviously punk rock, but didn't really admit to it in the book, traveled, dropped out of university, moved to Oakland where she started an urban farm in a squatted empty lot. She has a lot of crap and a crusty, calm mechan
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
After reading Novella Carpenter's Farm City about her adventures in urban farming, I looked at her website and found she had just published a new book. Gone Feral is a more personal memoir about her upbringing and relationship with her father, along with her own quest to become a mother. Carpenter's parents were "back-to-the-land hippies" who bought a piece of land in Idaho and tried to survive off the grid. Ultimately, their marriage fell apart and their father "went feral" while their mother r ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
In this memoir, Novella Carpenter and her partner are contemplating having a baby. Before she takes the leap to parenthood though, Novella needs to make peace with her feelings about her mainly absent father. Growing up, she and her sister were raised by their parents, off the grid, in remote Idaho. Eventually this hard existence becomes too difficult for Novella's mom and she and her husband divorcedand she takes the girls and moves to California. From that point on Novella rarely sees or corre ...more
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Carpenter tries to find her father, who left the family when she was a kid. It's an interesting journey b/c she figures out that even though she doesn't like a lot of what her father is or does, she (and her sister) have inherited many of his quirks. She tells the story with a lot of her characteristic humor, and she ostensibly says she's looking for her Dad b/c she believes in genetics--and she's about to do what she has sworn she would not do--become a "breeder" herself. But I feel like her se ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Note: I won this book through First Reads (hope I did that right)

I thought that this book was wonderful. It raised a lot of questions on how much our genes play a part in who we become. Is it really nurture versus nature? How much is bred into us?

The story of her going to find her father and repairing a damaged relationship can be found in multiple father/daughter relationships around the world - even those that weren't as as dysfunctional.

The fear that Novella feels for her father jumps off the
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fict
So, it's hard for me to know how to feel about this book. I wouldn't call it amazing, the writing was more mediocre than anything. I would venture to guess that, for most people, the story would also feel a little "meh." Yet, though this paints a MUCH more extreme version than I certainly ever knew, so many of the themes in this book reflect my own life and childhood back at me. How many of us were raised this way - free-range children of idealists trying to make it work? The parallels are very ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Many parts of this book were engaging and complex and endearing, but I couldn’t get over the way the author treats and ultimately discards her animals.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I almost skipped it after reading the first chapter--the writing was pretty rough. But I'm glad I continued reading it; her story is fascinating! ...more
Jessica Brown
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Novella tells her truly inspiring, heartfelt story based as an open diary filled with memories and truths. It all starts when she receives a voicemail from her mother telling her that her father has gone missing, the man she hasn't seen in 20 years. A hunt begins as she has her mind set on finding him, trying to make up for lost years with revisiting the birthplace of her home town and seeking to replenish old memories. In addition, she has a longing to find her father to tell him how she is exp ...more
Hayley DeRoche
I saw this book and immediately grabbed it from the library -- a hunt for a missing person while trying to make sense of their life, from a woman's perspective! Cool. However, the "missing person" angle quickly resolves itself with no real effort on the part of the author, and then the rest of the book was a self-indulgent search for the Meaning behind a person's personality and choices as she dithers on whether she should become a parent. It felt self-important and just...unnecessary as far as ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really appreciate the author's raw, straightforward style of writing. Her story, her relationship with her father, really moved me. She gives us great insight into her captivating, complex and crazy family dynamic. Our parents teach us resilience and we resent them for it, but with an open and willing heart, we also learn compassion. ...more
Nancy Eister
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Something draws me to Novella Carpenter. Though I'm not really drawn to raising goats and rabbits in urban industrial Oakland, I was fascinated by her first ( to me) book, Farm City. And though I wasn't raised in the backwoods by hippie parents, I was nearly a hippie parent myself,just younger by several years and more wary. Not all of us become parents, but we are all children, and the quest to understand what our parents were really like at our age, how they made the decisions they did, what f ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can only imagine being a memoirist and reading reviews that say the reader doesn't like you as a person. So I must say that Novella Carpenter's memoirs make me like her so much that I'd love to be her friend and neighbor. ...more
R.K. Cowles
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
2 1/2 stars
Gail Rogers
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
She tries to connect with her long-absent and half-crazy father before having her own child.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Funny, sad. A sort of coming of age story.
Susan Beecher
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
A completely engaging memoir. Novella Carpenter is a good writer. This is as much about her life and her trying to come to terms with her unusual father. Honest and wel-written. Recommend.
Steve Chilton
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
All families are different, and how you were raised shapes you from your childhood. I found this a little depressing though, as the sought for reconciliation didn't seem to have really happened by the end. The book cover suggested that he had gone feral wasn't really the truth of the matter either. ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway, first-reads
I received a copy of Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild compliments of Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway and appreciated the opportunity.

I will start by saying that I raced through this memoir in one sitting. It quickly captured my attention and pulled me in! I was enthralled by author Novella Carpenter and her personal quest to find anwers about her father, George Carpenter, who had been living "off-the-grid" for a majority of her life. Novella and her sister, Riana did not have a convent
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I picked up this book because so many things about it reminded me of my own relationship with my dad, and his relationship with the wilderness: the author struggles to connect with her father, who in turn struggles to connect with people in general, preferring to live the life of a mountain man in the Idaho wilds. Once I dove into the book, I realized that the resemblance is much less pronounced than I first thought--my own dad doesn't live in a ramshackle cabin in the middle of nowhere, like Ge ...more
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Novella Carpenter grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State. She majored in biology and English at the University of Washington in Seattle. While attending Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, she studied under Michael Pollan for two years. Her urban farm began with a few chickens, then some bees, until she had a full-blown farm near downtown Oakland.

Author photo courtesy of author website.

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