Girl in the Woods

Girl in the Woods

by Aspen Matis


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In 2008, Aspen Matis left behind her quaint Massachusetts town for a school two thousand miles away. Eager to escape her childhood as the sheltered baby girl of her family, Aspen wanted to reinvent herself at college. She hoped that far from home she'd meet friends who hadn't known her high school meekness; she would explore thrilling newfound freedom, blossom, and become a confident adult. But on her second night on campus, all those hopes were obliterated when Aspen was raped by a fellow student.

The academic year commenced; Aspen felt alone now, devastated. She stumbled through her first college semester. Her otherwise loving and supportive parents discouraged her from speaking of the attack; her university's "conflict mediation" process for handling sexual assaults was callous—then ineffectual. Aspen was confused, ashamed, and uncertain about how to deal with a problem that has—disturbingly—become common at institutions of higher learning throughout the country. Her desperation growing, she made a bold decision: she fled. She dropped out and sought healing in the freedom of the wild, on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail leading from Mexico to Canada.

In this important and inspiring memoir, Aspen chronicles an ambitious five-month trek that was as dangerous as it was transformative. Forced to survive on her own for the first time, squarely facing her trauma and childhood, she came to realize that the rape was not the only shameful burden she carried with her as she walked. She found herself on a new expedition: to confront—and overcome—the confines that had bound her since long before her second night at college.

A nineteen-year-old girl alone and adrift, Aspen conquered desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears, and fellow desert pilgrims. Among the snowcaps and the forests of America's West, she found the confidence that had eluded her all her life. After a thousand miles of solitude, she met a man who helped her learn to love, trust, and heal. Then from the endless woods she blazed a new path to the future she wanted—and reclaimed it.

What emerges is an unflinching portrait of a girl in the aftermath of rape. Told with elegance and suspense, Girl in the Woods is a beautifully rendered story of emotional and physical boundaries eroding to reveal the truths that lie beyond the edges of the map.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062291066
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/08/2015
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 780,819
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Aspen Matis is a writer living in Greenwich Village, where she's finishing her degree at The New School and working on a novel.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I Terrible Seeds

Chapter 1 The Garden City 7

Chapter 2 Terrible Seeds 16

Chapter 3 Blood on the Tracks 31

Chapter 4 The Things I Carried 43

Chapter 5 The Dangers of the Desert 60

Chapter 6 Unbound Ghosts 69

Chapter 7 Mirages 91

Chapter 8 Hollow Words 105

Chapter 9 Wild Dreams 122

Chapter 10 Trail Magic 141

Part II The Range of Light

Chapter 11 Love in the Woods 159

Chapter 12 Distance to Paradise 173

Chapter 13 No Harm Will Befall You 187

Chapter 14 The Range of Light 207

Part III The Way Through

Chapter 15 A Thousand Miles of Solitude 227

Chapter 16 The Director of My Life 261

Chapter 17 Inside Fire 278

Chapter 18 Love Notes Under Rocks 302

Chapter 19 A Hiker's Guide to Healing 322

Chapter 20 A Girl in the Woods 349

Epilogue 358

International Resources 364

Acknowledgments 365

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Girl in the Woods: A Memoir 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author has a nice writing style. However, I found the person she portrayed herself to be very difficult to like or take seriously. She wanted sympathy and others to be outraged over her rape, which is valid, but some of her actions were so contradictory that it tainted the overall message. She talks about the rape and as a reader you do want her to be comforted. Next chapter she is flaunting her body by skinnydipping with strange men and becoming offended when someone calls her out on it. Also,sending innuendo texts to a fellow hiker she is attracted to and answering the motel room in nothing but a towel when he arrives seemed an odd choice for a rape survivor. I expected someone as traumatized as she wants us to believe she is to have been a little more mature when it came to the situations she placed herself in along the trail.