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Torch
Cheryl Strayed
Adult Fiction STRAYED

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A family founders after a mother's death in Strayed's beautifully observed debut. Teresa Rae Wood was a teen mother and an abused wife who escaped to Minnesota, fell in love, raised good kids and started hosting a radio program called Modern Pioneers. "Work hard. Do good. Be incredible," Teresa tells her listeners, because that's what she does-until she's diagnosed with cancer and learns she has only months to live. As her loving common-law husband, Bruce, and her children, Claire (a bright, responsible college senior), and Josh, (a brooding 17-year-old), face Teresa's dying and death, Strayed shows how grief can divide people when they need each other the most. Bruce vows to kill himself, but then stumbles into a marriage with his neighbor; Claire drops out of school, cheats on her boyfriend and stops eating; Josh sells drugs and falls in love with a girl he quickly impregnates. The novel, like the family it portrays, loses its center after Teresa's death, as Bruce, Claire and Josh (especially the latter two) push and pull at each other, reaching and only sometimes finding comfort and connection. Strayed's characters are real and lovable, even as they fail themselves and each other; even tertiary players feel fully realized. Though the subject is sad, the novel is not without humor; it shimmers with a humane grace. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Teresa Rae Wood signs off from her radio program Modern Pioneers with "Be incredible"-advice that Strayed, an award-winning short story writer and essayist, took to heart in her debut novel. This deeply moving tale set in small-town Minnesota recounts an exceptional woman's death from cancer and how her family deals with their grief. What Teresa leaves behind when she dies-her voice on the radio, a well-worn red coat, a tube of pink lipstick-has the power to touch her husband and two grown children in painful and desperate ways. Each character deals with the loss privately, not wanting to let the others in, and yet each copes in similar ways. Strayed's descriptions of her characters' lives, where and how they live, what they remember, and what they wish to forget ring true and clear and make this novel an unforgettable read; highly recommended.-Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Bruce
Male
Remarried
Dealing with the death of his common law wife; marries the neighbor next-door.

Claire
Female
Bruce's daughter; mother died from cancer.

Josh
Male
Claire's brother.



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