by Diane Les Becquets
Penguin Random House | 2016
ARC e-Reader provided
Hardcover: 310 pages (978-0-425-28378-3)
Genre: Adult/Fiction/Mystery ★★★1/2
An advance reader copy was provided free of charge
by Doubleday Books through NetGalley
in exchange for my honest opinion.
“…something was taking hold of her, an awareness of her surroundings, and the cold and the approaching nightfall. She’s relied on her adrenaline, had attacked these woods, trying to make good time, and now with each step, she knew just how lost she had become.”
I have been arm wrestling my brain for a couple of weeks deciding what I think of the book. It wasn’t until I read the transcript of an interview on NPR with the author that I realized what was troubling me. Les Becquets revealed that Breaking Wild, in her words is an “autobiographical fiction”. A skilled hunter herself, Les Becquets survived a terrifying rainy cold night after her headlamp failed while elk hunting in Colorado.
Initially I was trying to review the story from my librarian frame of mind but my inner voice, as a woods woman myself, was telling me I was negatively judging the actions of Amy Raye Latour. It seemed inconceivable to me that a skilled hunter would make so many compounding life endangering split second decisions. Everyone makes a bad choice at times to leave an important piece of gear home or fails to anticipate an injury on a simple day trip. But few would wander into the Colorado wild with so little thought.
But that gets to the heart of the story. As well researched and vividly described, the wilderness serves as a backdrop to their inner stories. The reverence for nature is palpable for Ranger Pru and Amy Raye. The painful secrets in their daily lives overwhelms them.
Les Becquets gives us two physically strong women both comfortable alone in the wilderness; neither intimidated by adverse weather, difficult terrain, or life in the shady depths. When faced with an unexpected challenge in the wild, both women are more than capable of facing it head-on.
Yet despite the mastery of survival in nature each struggles to overcome deep scarring events in their personal lives, incapable of stepping through pain, remorse or regret. Each has chosen to let sleeping demons lie thus delaying any hope of happiness or resolution. Will they remain as alone and isolated in life as they are in the wilderness? Or will they allow themselves to step forward risking pain to find joy and peace?
The librarian in me wants to note that the flashes into the past at times were distracting. The men in the lives of these women were depicted as a little weak in my estimation. Not really worthy of these powerful women.
I spotted a few unresolved things, the most obvious was the loss of Ken’s borrowed gun. When she did an inventory of her pack, why didn’t she note that she no longer had the gun?
But overall I found it a fascinating story. The author has taken on distinctly different issues and handled them wonderfully. I rated it 3 1/2 stars. A four star has to really keep my attention enough to ignore the repeated buzzing timer on the stove.
Readers of Jon Krakauer’s tragic true life story of Chris McCandless in Into the Wild will find this fictional survival story much to their liking.
One final note. The descriptions of the elk hunt are quite graphic. Although handled in an expert manner, they may upset some readers.