Girl in the Woods

A Memoir
Narrated by: Stephanie Tucker
Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins
4 out of 5 stars (192 ratings)

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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
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  • Overall
    2 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.

11 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this helpful

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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!!!

12 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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Dont Do It

What disappointed you about Girl in the Woods?

Whiny, spoiled brat who overdramatizes everything. Wasted entirely too many hours of my life hoping this kid would grow up and I just can’t stand another minute of it. I will never know how this book ends..

2 people found this helpful

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Mercy. I disliked this book.

I did not want to give anymore of my time to this book but the review required 15 words..... ugh

1 person found this helpful

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Might not be able to finish this...

I'm about halfway through this audiobook and may need to stop listening. I really should have heeded the warnings of the other reviewers who stated that the lead character in this memoir comes across as thoroughly unlikable. Although I cannot pretend to understand what it's like to be raped (which happens to our author early in the memoir), I can understand what it's like to want to take on a long distance hike, be it the PCT, the AT, or something that takes only a couple weeks. According to the author, men head out on the PCT looking for women and sex. Well, I've hiked several portions of the PCT and not once did I do it because I was looking to hook up.

What's frustrating me about this memoir is how one of the reasons the author hit the trail was to prove to herself and her family that she could take care of herself and recover from her rape, then three days into the journey, she meets a guy. She hikes with him for a while, then decides she doesn't want to anymore. Then she does. Then she doesn't again. Then she does. And she has sex with him and tells him she loves him. Then she complains that the guy hikes too fast and criticizes him for only wanting to finish the trail by early September because he has a Phish concert to attend (and then, after making him sound like a lout for this, blithely mentions that he also needs to finish quickly because he's not a US citizen and his visa expires that same first week of September). So now, halfway through the book, she is plotting on how to dump him.

She's also been withholding sex from the guy and, if they were to have sex again, she states it would be HER decision if they do or not. Well, allow me to point out the obvious: it needs to be a mutual decision. Otherwise, it's... oh, right: rape.

And an aside for the author: please try getting the facts straight and the names right the next time you write something like this. The owners of Hiker Heaven in Agua Dulce are Jeff and Donna Sauffley, not "Dana Figment". And the owners of Casa de Luna are the Andersons, not the Hendersons.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Grief! don't read this book!

this young woman and people like her are why millenials get a bad rap. she is undoubtedly deranged and maybe schizophrenic. my eyes are sore from rolling!

1 person found this helpful

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A Real Struggle

I hoped that, somehow, this author would evolve by the close of the book. Descriptive and good writing but it is really a tale of narcissistic self indulgence. I never found much to like about her and felt the amazing potential of the experience was wasted on her. It is a well written but sad summary of the state of our culture's view of self and the world around them.

1 person found this helpful

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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.