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Publisher's Summary

In her debut novel, Torch, best-selling author Cheryl Strayed weaves a searing and luminous tale of a family's grief after unexpected loss.

"Work hard. Do good. Be incredible!" is the advice Teresa Rae Wood shares with the listeners of her local radio show, Modern Pioneers, and the advice she strives to live by every day. She has fled a bad marriage and rebuilt a life with her children, Claire and Joshua, and their caring stepfather, Bruce. Their love for each other binds them as a family through the daily struggles of making ends meet. But when they received unexpected news that Teresa, only 38, is dying of cancer, their lives all begin to unravel and drift apart. Strayed's intimate portraits of these fully human characters in a time of crisis show the varying truths of grief, forgiveness, and the beautiful terrors of learning how to keep living.

©2012 Cheryl Strayed (P)2012 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A heartbreaking anatomy of one family's grief.... Beautifully written and authentic." (People)
"This novelist goes fearlessly into this place of raw grief and inappropriate lust and desperate love and simply reports what she sees: These are people who...live dense, perplexing, fascinating and authentic lives." (Washington Post Book World )
"Torch is a steady stream of finely wrought portrayals of nuance, moments, and emotions.... Lovely turns of phrase are coupled with subtle and keen observations and truisms that remind a reader why she reads." (Newsday)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Don't Listen to the Intro

Any additional comments?

The intro goes over all the main events from the story and compares them to the author's real life which pretty much ruined the book for me.. why am I spending this many hours listing to a book where I already know what happens... just skip the intro (ch1) and listen to in after.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Marci
  • portland, OR, United States
  • 11-25-14

Meh. The characters just weren't likable

Be incredible? Really? I wish ALL the characters of this book would have taken that advice. The first part of the story is good. Meeting Teresa, the mom who has cancer is great. The characters around her and her relationships are great. But I lost interest during the rest of the 3/4 of the book.
If you are like me, you are interested in this book because you loved Wild. Strayed's style is in here. It's in here in the shocking, raw things that the characters do because they are flawed and because of their grief. I liked those moments. Where this book failed though was redeeming those characters and making them likable. In Wild, Cheryl obviously is super likable and does things and shares things that made me like her including and because of her flaws--I liked her because of her complete-ness.
The characters in Torch were selfish and narcissistic and shallow and single faceted in their flawed-ness. I had no reason to cheer for them, they were just kind of lame.
The end of the story was the worst part. It just fizzled as the characters continued to have things happen to them and as they just stumbled through their mediocrity.

I also did not like Cheryl as the narrator. She had an annoying lilt in the way she finished each sentence that got tedious.

I hope Strayed writes more books. Fiction or non-fiction, I'll read (listen to) it, because I like her style and I think she'll only grow as a writer.

I don't recommend this book.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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High expectations

I had high hopes after listening to"Wild" but this fell short. The story was entertaining enough but lacking something....plot? The narration did not help at all. So monotone, one dimensional, sounded like she ended most sentences with an inflection that made me think of a melodramatic amateur poetry reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book

Touches on all the emotions of losing somebody close to you. It's a great story and great character development. I really enjoyed it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gail
  • jackson, NJ, United States
  • 06-15-17

Authors Should NOT Narrate

Couldn't make it through this book.The narration was monotonous. Every sentence felt like a bland staccato of downward lilts at each comma, with upward lilts at the end of each sentence. I found my head bobbing to the repetitive robotic rhythm. Also not a fan of the overly wordy writing style that seems to stock pile adjectives just for the sake of doing so. The Prologue was like Reader's Digest version of the book to come.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great! Exactly what I expect if Cheryl Strayed

After reading Wild, Cheryl did not disappoint me when I backtracked to Torch. Great story and very true to who she is as an author and person. The book itself felt intimate.

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Great book to get lost in-

Loved the tone and pace of the authors voice as she read this-listening to her became just as important as the characters and story. I got lost in witnessing the struggles of very relatable souls experiencing tough transition with life without their mom-the only buffer they've had against the world-as they learn to cope without her.

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Great Book

Would you listen to Torch again? Why?

I loved the book! Sheryl is a great reader

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Mostly. Toward the end I was not as torn

2 of 8 people found this review helpful