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The key missing piece of Jon Krakauer’s multi million, multi territory bestseller and widely acclaimed Sean Penn film Into the Wild is finally revealed by his best friend and sister, Carine.
The story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but the rest of the nation too. Krakauer’s book and a Sean Penn film skyrocketed Chris McCandless to worldwide fame, but the real story of his life and his journey has not yet been told – until now.
Carine McCandless, Chris’s sister, featured in both the book and film, was the person with whom he had the closest bond, and who witnessed firsthand the dysfunctional and violent family dynamic that made Chris willing to embrace the harsh wilderness of Alaska. Growing up in the same troubled and volatile household that sent Chris on his fatal journey into the wild, Carine finally reveals the broader and deeper reality about life in the McCandless family.
For decades, Carine and Chris’s parents, a successful aerospace engineer and his beautiful wife, raised their children in the tony suburbs of Northern Virginia. But behind closed doors, her father beat and choked her mother. He whipped Carine and Chris with his belt. He cursed them, belittled their accomplishments, and told them they were nothing without him. Carine and Chris hid under the stairs, hoping to avoid his wrath. They were teenagers before they learned they were conceived while their father was still married and having babies with his first wife, who finally summoned the courage to leave him after he broke her back in a fight.
In the 20-plus years since the tragedy of Chris’s death, she has searched for some kind of redemption. But in this touching and deeply personal memoir, she reveals how she has learned that real redemption can only come from speaking the truth. Finally, she has found the truth not just in her brother’s story, but also her own.
Twenty years ago, Jon Krakauer wrote in Into the Wild the stunning story of Chris McCandless, a young man who walked into the Alaska wilderness and starved to death. At the time, Krakauer spoke with Chris's sister, Carine, who allowed Krakauer to read Chris's letters, but asked the author not to print them. Two decades later, in this fiercely honest and gripping memoir, Carine shares many of these letters and candidly reveals the harsh and violent family in which the two grew up. The siblings' father constantly berated and physically abused his young wife, and, as young children, Chris and Carine comforted each other the best they could. "Our parents hurt us constantly, but they were our parents. We wanted to believe the warm moments showed who they genuinely were, not just another part of the show they put on." Chris eventually found freedom when he took off on his own in the year following high school graduation, and before he entered Emory his father demanded to know Chris's plans for the summer, but Chris refused, making the threats fell empty. When Chris headed off on his post-college journey, he left Carine to cope with her parents, and to stake out her own life. In the end, this is Carine's story. She honestly shares her successes and failures in work and relationships as she comes to the realization that she has tried to find in adult life what was lacking in her childhood: worth, strength, and unconditional love.