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Publisher's Summary

Girl in the Woods is Aspen Matis' exhilarating true-life adventure of hiking from Mexico to Canada - a coming-of-age story, a survival story, and a triumphant story of overcoming emotional devastation. On her second night of college, Aspen was raped by a fellow student. Overprotected by her parents who discouraged her from telling of the attack, Aspen was confused and ashamed. Dealing with a problem that has sadly become all too common on college campuses around the country, she stumbled through her first semester - a challenging time made even harder by the coldness of her college's "conflict mediation" process. Her desperation growing, she made a bold decision: She would seek healing in the freedom of the wild, on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail leading from Mexico to Canada.

In this inspiring memoir, Aspen chronicles her journey, a five-month trek that was ambitious, dangerous, and transformative. A 19-year-old girl alone and lost, she conquered desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears, and fellow desert pilgrims. Exhausted after each 30-mile day, at times on the verge of starvation, Aspen was forced to confront her numbness, coming to terms with the sexual assault and her parents' disappointing reaction. On the trail and on her own, she found that survival is predicated on persistent self-reliance. She found her strength. After a thousand miles of solitude, she found a man who helped her learn to love and trust again - and heal.

Told with elegance and suspense, Girl in the Woods is a beautifully rendered story of eroding emotional and physical boundaries to reveal the truths that lie beyond the edges of the map.

©2015 Aspen Matis (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Wanted to like this

My subjects heading sort of says it all. Tedious to listen to. The narrator affected a little girl voice and spoke as if her audience are five year olds. The "mommy" and "daddy" thing was really hard to listen to. Maybe reading it it would have made more sense. I get that the author was trying to show how young she was when she did this. I'm very familiar with the trail, my 19-year-old son just completed it, and I genuinely felt that she exaggerated dangers. I really only got to about one third of the way through the book and so I'm only talking about the dangers mentioned there. kudos to her bravery and for fighting back as one of the 25% of college girls who are raped, and her story is a good one, but this needed more editing. Hard to watch her make so many bad decisions, and I don't know how it ends, but I hope she continues on her upwards healing path. Could not finish this book.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • eve
  • JACKSON HTS, NY, United States
  • 04-03-16

Narrator made me hate her

Something about the narrators vocal inflections, and tone of voice, and the way she said "did-int and "could-int" instead of didn't and couldn't, made her Sound like a spoiled rich girl all throughout the book. And she kept making so many bad decisions, I'm sorry, I just wanted to slap her( not really, I'm not a violent person, but Please, girl!!) I know we were all stupid when we were 19, and she had been especially sheltered, but after hours of this I could not sympathize. She was a very very lucky girl!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

HATED IT!!! spoiler alert kinda.

This is a story about a spoiled brat walking through the woods all the while making more and more enemies on her trip. She lives in the shadow of her successful family members and endures a tragedy early on and then continues to mention it I swear NO less than a 100 times. Her mom is a codependent weirdo so no wonder this girl is a mess. I truly feel sorry for her and its sad that often when she is probably misunderstood but she continues to victimize herself. Waste of my money and time and I REALL REALLY tried to like this story and the girl but it's almost impossible. I stopped 6 chapters from the end because it just wasn't worth my annoyance with this girl and if that was the authors intent they nailed it! Also the narrators voice is exactly how I would expect this spoiled brats voice would be, annoying!!!

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Self-Absorbed, yet Lacking Self-Awareness

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I read all the negative reviews and figured that maybe those reviewers were just too jaded or maybe being insensitive to a young woman's problem and her attempt to deal with it. I was going to read this book and like it in spite of the negative reviews. Well . . . I'm sorry to say that those negative comments were pretty accurate. This author is so over-the-top in self absorption and yet totally lacking any semblance of self-awareness that is in painful to read. She seems incapable of seeing how pampered and babied she is, incapable of learning from anything she's done and sees herself as everybody's potential victim. I wanted to root for some sort of real understanding on her part, but it is hard to feel any empathy, any sympathy for a spoiled rich girl who couldn't even dress herself until high school, who couldn't operate a washing machine in college and who had never had any kind of real job. Hard to feel pity for her travails on the trail when mommy and daddy provide a cell phone, sat phone, GPS, credit card and drop boxes from Whole Foods at every trail crossing. And her constant wallowing in her "shame" and her low self-esteem or her self-proclaimed ugliness just gets pathetic.
If she wants those of us in the real world to understand her "burden", the author needs to actually live in the real world for a while.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not a Likable Person

I waa busy when I first started listening to this book. I heard about sex she had with a guy. As the other reviewer states, she kept talking about being raped. I literally had to rewind because I thought I missed the rape part of the book. Nope. I didnt. I'm not saying she wasnt raped, but the way she described it sounded like a couple who went to far and she wasnt mature enough to handle it. I was hoping for another PCT trail book like Wild. This isnt even close.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • Canton, MI USA
  • 01-23-17

to find inner strength

it takes a long time for it to build up, but the story has a very satisfying ending.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • mcurt86
  • SAN DIEGO, CA, United States
  • 09-20-18

I really wanted to like this book

I really, really wanted to like this book. But I just didn't. I'm fascinated by the PCT and thru-hikers so I thought this would be an interesting read. I realize now that the trail and the hike was not necessarily the focus of the book but I found myself annoyed with the author through most of the story. It's supposed to be the story of how the author decided to take a hike and discover who she is, at just 19 years old, following a traumatic sexual assault on her second night of college. Literally on the first day of her hike, she meets a young man who is also hiking the PCT and she immediately tags along with him and ends up sleeping with him and becoming his girlfriend. I thought she wanted to be alone and away from men to "find herself?" Whatever. She eventually dumps that guy after about 1,000 miles and hikes some of the trail alone. Then she meets another guy, tags along with him, and ends up marrying him. They hiked together for miles and miles, sleeping with each other, and they didn't even know each others' real names. I fail to see how she accomplished what she set out to accomplish on her hike (especially since she and the dude she married are now divorced). Besides all of that, she consistently refers to every male she encounters on the trail as "boys" and not "men" (even the 29-year old man that she married). She mentions several times throughout her relationship with both "Ice Cap" and "Dash" that she wants them to take care of her. Yet she set out on the hike to prove to herself that she doesn't need a man. So which is it? This was probably the least satisfactory ending to a book I have read in a while.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Life-changing, healing

This book helped me heal from a similar rape experience. Matis's honesty, detail, thoughtfulness, and willingness to speak the truths, both good and bad, that so many others refuse to say were a balm to my soul. She is an incredible writer, and her attention to detail added many layers to her story. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has suffered trauma, and anyone who is in a close relationship with someone who has been sexually assaulted and wants to better understand the experience and healing process. Though not everyone hikes the PCT to find healing, this book is still very insightful and relateable.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A story for a very specific audience

I want to preface this by saying I in no way want to degrade the authors experience and feelings through her journey.

However, this book is only relatable to a very young woman with little life experience from an upper middle class white family. She has the indulgent self introspective that comes with seeing and feeling the world for the very first time. As a woman on the cusp of 30 with many different experiences und r my belt, I found much of the story unbearably self-indulgent. That being said, she’s incredibly brave for such a young woman and her willingness to push herself and her ability to look within herself is truly inspiring.

It’s also maddening to hear many mispronounced landmarks from a professional platform.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

It didn't grab me or keep my interest at all

Struggled to get into it, it didn't capture me and I had to push myself to keep listening

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lauren
  • 07-17-17

Truly inspiring

From the gripping true story of the struggles leading to and on the PCT to the performance this is a story that will inspire you to know that you can find yourself, no matter what the odds are. I loved it.