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The Wild Truth: A Memoir

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  8,825 ratings  ·  1,179 reviews
The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Pe ...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2014)
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HarperOne (an imprint of HarperCollins) It took her over 20 years to get to a place where she was comfortable sharing this story publicly. Writing it took about another year or so to get dow…moreIt took her over 20 years to get to a place where she was comfortable sharing this story publicly. Writing it took about another year or so to get down on paper. (less)

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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  8,825 ratings  ·  1,179 reviews

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Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Reading this book was like pulling over on the Interstate to gawk at a 20-car pileup. You know you shouldn't be staring at the mess, but you can't look away.

Carine McCandless is the younger sister of Chris McCandless, who became famous after his story was published in Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild (which was also made into a movie, directed by Sean Penn). This summary is from Krakauer's Author's Note:

"In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and wal
Courtney La cava
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I feel that most of the people who have panned this book do so because they don't like that Chris and Carine had such a problem with their parents. As if it's okay or at least normal for parents to act this way, or that Carine should have 'sucked it up' or 'stopped whining'. I wonder how many of them had abusive parents. As a survivor of things similar, and at times worse, than Carine and Chris, I felt like this book truly spoke to me. I always admired Chris after reading Into the Wild and seein ...more
Christopher Lane
Nov 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
If you pick up this book to try and fill in the blanks as to why Mr McCandless left his family, and engaged on an ultimately suicidal trek then you won't find much new. CM is largely a cameo role in what is a 400 page teen angst, whining fest about her mean parents. Walt and Billie weren't parents I'd particularly like, but neither were they the psychos the book tries to say. I think the delving into finding porn (adult) on Walts laptop, and his smoking pot is a bit cheap, and just a character a ...more
Kerri Anne
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some of the reviews I've seen on Goodreads about this book really upset me. Like, REALLY upset me. I get it: A lot of people don't understand memoirs. A lot of people don't get that you can critique the writing, the style, the flow of the narrative. You can critique the title of the book, or the quotes leading into the chapters (I personally found them exceptionally cheesy and even copy-cat in places, except where notes from Chris' found paperbacks were concerned). What you CAN'T critique, howev ...more
Rachel Rothbard
Boring and petty

I was so excited when I first heard about this book. Then I started reading it. The author is about as narcissistic as they come. No wonder Chris left his entire family without staying in contact with any of them. What a bunch of nuts. She says she wrote this book to show the truth about why Chris left. Anyone with half a brain would know from reading the first book it was because he was unhappy in his current life and family. This book is basically the sisters' life memoir and b
Nov 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Disappointing book. The author claims that she is going to focus on telling the truth of her brother's story, but it's actually just a story of her own life, and it references her brother's occasionally. Yes, I feel bad that she suffered abuse from her parents, but she seems to have not changed or grown or learned from it because she continues to welcome them back into her life time after time. She doesn't even see it. She says she's better than them because she can leave three failed marriages ...more
Eva Smith
Aug 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Carine McCandless shows up unannounced in front of her former childhood home. The current owner is kind to her uninvited guest and graciously allows McCandless to tour the house. Her kindness is repaid by McCandless writing about the unkempt yard, the nicotine smell in the house that makes her cough, etc. Even the dog is libeled as the writer conveys her suspicion that poor old Charlie must have peed on the carpet.


This beginning sets the tone. Summarizing the content of the rest of book:
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The great part of this book that overshadows any other part of it is that it has to do with Christopher McCandless' story. Which is one of the best stories I think I have ever heard.

The book was also very well written. I was engaged the whole time. I did it on audio and then the second half I sped up the audio and read along with it. Carine reads the story which is a huge plus.

The questionable part of this book is that it is really more about family dynamics. Chris is a mostly minor character i
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was a big disappointment. Let me say I am not in the Chris McCandless as some kind of martyr camp. I am definitely someone who saw him as a victim of his own idealistic idiocy going into the Alaskan wilderness ill prepared and uninformed. His demise while tragic was predictable and needless. So he grew up in dysfunctional family. So what. So do millions of others. All I got from this is a feeling of pomposity and self righteousness from the author. And if she and her brother were SO cl ...more
Cynthia Sillitoe
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the frustrations I felt with Into The Wild was that it clearly wasn't the whole story. It was clear that he did not have the happy childhood people on the outside thought he did, but it wasn't clear why. I figured 'strict' meant some abuse and I could tell Chris' parents had very little insight to him. I wondered did that go both ways? What this book showed me was that Chris had plenty of insight into his parents--enough to sever ties and walk away. Reading this book made me want to rewri ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
This alternative tale acts as an interesting counterweight to Krakauer's earlier book. I honestly don't understand the disparaging reviews that have accompanied what is, in my opinion, a brave and honest recounting of the catalyst that drove Chris McCandless into the wild. When reading Krakauer's writing, I picked up on the subtle undertones of domestic instability that lead Chris to break with the world. But Carine succeeds in filling in the gaps in both Chris' somewhat mysterious background an ...more
Darci Gardner
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
First of all, I am appalled by the reviews I have read that say :"Whine much?" Or "The abuse must not have been that bad if she kept going back for their money."

Okay, hold up. What? Because a woman is telling a horrific story about the severe emotional and physical abuse that happened in her home that makes her a whiner? And because she accepted money from her parents on multiple occasions that doesn't mean anything. Her parents were extremely manipulative with everything, including money. Until
Erik Halfacre
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Carine pulls away the veil of mystery surrounding Chris' motives for leaving his family and severing communications with his parents as he ventured Into the Wild. Carine openly discusses the childhood that she, Chris, and the rest of their siblings lived through. She highlights the effects that physical and emotional abuse had on her family at the hands of narcissistic parents, with a level of honesty and candor not previously seen by the public. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to ...more
Crystal Helcel
Nov 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is not really about her brother. I was looking for insight into his character and did not find it here. This book is about Carine and how much she hates her parents. They were abusive. She acts like they are the only abused children in the history of the world. It is ridiculous. She needs therapy to stop being such a victim.
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading about Chris and Carine's childhood has reminded me of the importance of displaying unconditional love to your children at all times. I hope that even though the book brings to light some harsh realities that the truth coming out will help bring healing to their family.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I found this book to be extremely frustrating. While readers would be enticed to read this based on the mystery around Chris McCandless and the ultimate truth, the author spends 3/4 of her time talking about her relationship with her parents and how bad that relationship was. The other 1/4 of the novel felt forced - adding tidbits of info about Chris's life or repeating Jon Krakauer - just to keep the reader reading. It was only in dull moments that Chris was brought into the novel.

While I don't
Janet Pawelek
Nov 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
You want some cheese with that whine?
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: I have never read Into the Wild, nor have I seen the movie.

So with that out of the way, let's start with my having no prior opinions about the McCandless story. Why read this? Because I hoped to learn from the family's side what drove Chris McCandless to do what he did, and perhaps get a better sense of why so many schools are requiring the Krakauer book. And this book does provide that insight, but... well... so many problems.

There are weird timeline gaps here, like the time Chris s
Mary Blye Kramer
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up this book, like most of you I assume, because I’d both read and seen Into the Wild. That had been a great read and I was curious to know what more could be said about Chris McCandless, the author’s brother, found dead years ago in Alaska.

The book, however, was mostly about her parents and I found myself often cringing. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the author’s stories; I do. But she came off as so angry, without an inner resolution. I cringed for some of what the author revealed
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, family-ties
I am pretty surprised by the vehemence of some reader's opinions after reading this book. These readers who think Carine McCandless is whining about her upper middle class childhood, should count themselves lucky, because they have clearly never suffered in this way with their own parent(s). I think having something off with one or both parents, but not being able to vocalize it without censure and judgments from people who don't understand, is an extremely painful byproduct of growing up with p ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a very insightful read and whilst I'd wished that I had read Into the Wild before I read this, it still didn't detract from my enjoyment. Having also seen the film version of Into The Wild I was not completely in the dark about the story of Chris McCandless. Although this was probably more a memoir of Carine's life there was enough in the story and a lot about Chris and their family life to make it interesting. Also Carine's own story and all that she has had to endure as well as her co ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this from the point of view of a psychiatric nurse, I may have seen what others may have missed. There is no way a kid could come out of this messed up family without being messed up too. Carine is open about her mistakes, but she doesn't relate her own dysfunction to her bad marriages or her brother's isolation, even from her.
In fact, she idealizes Chris when in all probability he had mental problems. What I didn't like was her constant harping about her awful parents. The reader figur
Nov 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Having parents that get drunk and fight sucks no matter what your financial status is, buuuuuuuuut, when your super rich it kind of makes you sound whiny and stompy to write about it. The idea that this is the whole truth not previously told to redeem the decisions of her brother to wander off into the Alaskan wilderness, seems like just a way to draw people in. Her brother is a prominent character in this for sure, but it really seems to be more about a rant on her crappy parents, who she never ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Chris McCandless has been a personal hero of mine for the last quarter of my life. At twenty, his story resonates with me as much as it did when I first encountered it at fifteen. And after reading Carine's account of their background, she has joined her brother as a personal hero of mine. Her resilience is remarkable, and the courage of her memoir is incredible. It's a compelling read and answers many questions.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a First Reads. I love memoirs, especially memoirs that serve as a counterpoint to an existing story, and for that I appreciate this book. It took me awhile, though, to grasp what was eating at me about the story. In the end, Carine McCandless committed the same sin as Jon Krakauer by mythologizing her brother - and herself to a certain extent. Aside from a passing mention of Chris' temper in the bowling alley, he could do no wrong. For a woman who has been through so much ...more
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has read 'Into the Wild'
This was a difficult book. I picked it up because I found it while looking for 'Into the Wild' and was curious about what this "truth" was. I assumed, wrongly, that perhaps the former book had been unauthorised somehow but that wasn't the case. It's best, IMO, to understand 'The Wild Truth' as a sequel and corrective to 'Into the Wild.' While the family had cooperated on and authorised ITW, Chris' sister, Carine, had barred the author of that work from mentioning the domestic abuse that went on ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was a difficult read for me. I've heard that this book can be hard to get through because it "doesn't illuminate Chris's story any further", but I have to highly disagree with that point. This book was difficult for me to get through because I've always seen in Chris a part of myself, but this book illuminated Carine McCandless in the same way for me: In her I saw my own sister.

As two siblings growing up in a highly abusive household, my sister and I also saw our fair share of deceptio
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am ashamed to admit that I'm one of those people who have judged Chris McCandless as an irresponsible, spoiled and ungrateful young man when I first read Into the Wild. Now that I have a better understanding of what was really going on in his life before he decided to split from it, I feel I have judged him wrongly. This is a captivating story about abusive and quite sick relationship in a family that seems perfectly normal on the outside. I realize it is a subjective account, told from one vi ...more
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I got off to a rough start with this book. Early on, it just seemed like a rehashing of the author's experience growing up in an abusive home. That's not a comfortable topic, but it's important background for what comes later in the book. That is what happens after childhood, when the abuse begins to take different forms and the adult "child" begins to assess options for dealing with that.

If you haven't been there, I'm sure the attempts at reconciliation and separation with abusive parents seem
Julie Suzanne
Well, I devoured this when I had no time for it, so there's a testimonial. McCandless begins with the secrets and the level of abuse she and her siblings endured and within the first third of the book, you totally understand why Chris did what he did, and you absolutely root for him when he makes the decision to completely "divorce" his parents, since they didn't have the strength to divorce each other. The "truth," according to Carine, satisfies that question and gives you an even stronger feel ...more
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* Please visit Carine's website for a list of all upcoming events.

Carine McCandless is an entrepreneur, activist and mother. She has been successfully self-employed since she started her first company at the age of nineteen. Carine's upcoming memoir, The Wild Truth, published by Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins, will be released in November, 2014.

Carine is the sister of literary icon Chri

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