Top critical review
Did you read Wild? If so, then you can probably pass this book up.
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2013
Here's the thing ... this book is the twin of Wild -- or, at least it's first few chapters. The death of Cheryl Strayed mother obviously and irrevocably changed her, as I imagine it would many people, I could not possibly fault her for that. But each of her books (all 3 of them) seems to play to that similar theme leaving readers wanting (maybe begging) for something different from Strayed's unique voice.
Having read Wild first, I bought this book knowing full good and well what I was getting into. Strayed and her blurb writer make no bones about it -- Torched is an almost-autobiography, more memoir then fiction. But a reader would hope for individuality in the novel, totted as fiction, nevertheless -- something, anything that would somehow set apart. That is where Torch unfortunately fails. Down to the food color/sugar/water drinks Teresa's fictional children consume in Torch that Strayed fondly recalls from her own youth in Wild, a reader is in for more then a few deja vu moments. It was during that time I was left question -- where is the individuality?
However, with that said, this book is not without legs of it's own.
Beautifully written, emotionally treading, this book teeters always on the fine line of grief and complete loss. Strayed refuses to shy away from uncomfortable moments -- drug abuse, grief-ladden sex, harrowing inner-monologs to name just a few. She does so with eloquence, which makes it all (if possible) that much harder to read.
Torch is the sort of book that deserves to stand in a light all its own ... it's just a shame it has to share so much with Wild. Both books are brilliant, just too similar.