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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Sweetbitter, a memoir of growing up in a family shattered by lies and addiction, and of one woman's attempts to find a life beyond the limits of her past. Stray is a moving, sometimes devastating, brilliantly written, and ultimately inspiring exploration of the landscapes of damage and survival.

After selling her first novel - a dream she'd worked long and hard for - Stephanie Danler knew she should be happy. Instead, she found herself driven to face the difficult past she'd left behind a decade ago: a mother disabled by years of alcoholism, further handicapped by a tragic brain aneurysm; a father who abandoned the family when she was three, now a meth addict in and out of recovery. After years in New York City she's pulled home to Southern California by forces she doesn't totally understand, haunted by questions of legacy and trauma. Here, she works toward answers, uncovering hard truths about her parents and herself as she explores whether it's possible to change the course of her history.   

Lucid and honest, heart-breaking and full of hope, Stray is an examination of what we inherit and what we don't have to, of what we have to face in ourselves to move forward, and what it's like to let go of one's parents in order to find a peace - and family - of one's own.

©2020 Stephanie Danler (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"I read Stray on the edge of my seat. This is a story of triumph: the triumph of grit, talent, grace, and beauty over the dark pull of inner demons. I'll be thinking about the courage it took to write this book for a long time to come." (Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance)

"In Stray, Stephanie Danler has created a compulsive, neck-breaking masterpiece. It is pleasurable and full-throatedly sensual beyond words. The abounding pain is unsentimentally rendered but mind-blowingly felt. It's a dark and hot book, a violently provocative one. But it is also quiet, tender. Ultimately this is a kind writer and on every page there is hope." (Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women)

"Danler's first memoir is as well-written as her novel was.... [A] moving text in which writing is therapeutic and family trauma is useful material." (Kirkus Reviews)

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What listeners say about Stray

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  • Overall
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Powerful

Absolutely relatable and masterly written.

Most arthurs fall short of fully capturing the importance of humanizing the person dealing with the life long effects of generational dysfunction.

Awhile still emphasizing on the importance of the individuals responsibly of self evaluation and the experience they have contribute to themselves, while on their journey of self discovery.

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just middle of the road ok. doesn't go deep enough

struggled to finish. not enough guts to the subject matter. surface story only. too much surface. needed to tell why

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Not for me

I can see why the author needed to write this book but I cannot see why anyone needs to read it. It was page after tortuous page of people whose drug and alcohol use and bad behavior destroyed their lives and those close to them. I confess I am not sympathetic to the character deficiencies of people who abuse themselves with substances so I may not be the best reviewer of this book. If I had endured one more story of the author vomiting I might have done so myself. I didn’t see redemption or salvation, only dismal survival including my own for finishing the book. I felt trapped in a gray fog with people I wanted to get away from. I hate casting such negativity on the author’s story. But I felt compelled to save others with similar opinions of substance abuse self-destructiveness from spending time and money with this book. “Waste” would have been a better title.

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Hard story to listen to but I couldn't stop

Thank you Stephanie for sharing your life with us. I love the way you write and your choice of words. You effectively weave the reader into the threads of your life and we can feel the difficulty and hurt you've lived. A therapeutic journey that tugged at my heart. I wanted to reach out and give you a virtual bear hug. I also loved Alex McKenna's voice. Great narrator!

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Liked it....but didn’t love

It was okay....I didnt exchange it but wished I used my credit on another book. The story was okay, a bit scattered but still a little interesting. There was just something missing.

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Beautifully weaved story

This book weaves time and trauma, struggles and success, it flows through lives touched by love, hate, passion, friendship, discovery and self awareness. Danler’s skill at writing brings the reader smoothly into the lives of her characters, you know them and understand their psyches. Beautifully read by Alex McKenna. I recommend this book to every parent, young adult and all readers who enjoy a good book. I only wish it was longer, perhaps there will be a sequel!

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The dance of the author and her father’s severed relationship is one I have also had to navigate.

Any book about family dynamics pulls me in, but Stray stopped me in my tracks. The dance of the author and her father’s severed relationship is one I have also had to navigate. @smdanler did it beautifully. This book is imperfectly perfect. A must read.

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Fascinating Story of a Complicated Childhood

Stray is so honest and freshly told that it feels unique among the countless stories of complicated and hurtful childhoods. What made the story bearable was how Stephanie Danler's powerful personality shone through the neglect and abuses of her parents.