My summer reading list: Girl in the Woods

Girl in the Woods,
Aspen Matis

A sheltered 19-year old college dropout, Aspen Matis took to the PCT to walk 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada in hopes of an existential reset after sexual assault left her world in tatters. This honest, emotional accounting of her journey couches the physical, emotional, and logistical challenges of a thru-hike in a teenage coming of age story that offers an engaging twist to the "wounded girl goes on a long hike and is healed" narrative.


What I liked about it

Sure, I dove into this summer's reading list in an attempt to liberate myself from that very "wounded girl" narrative, the "Wild" paradigm if you will, but I heard Aspen interviewed on a favorite podcast and decided I had to give this book a try. I'm glad I did. I loved the way she likened the growing strength in her body to mental and emotional strength in her life off trail. I appreciated her fearless confrontation of the things that happened in her past, and her determination to take her future into her own capable hands.

What I didn't like

At it's heart, though, this was a coming of age story, with all the insecurity, boy obsessions, and youthful fallibility that come with that genre. I would have much rather delved into Aspen's solo trips on the JMT (that she alludes to but never chronicles) than read the details of her emotional boy-powered rollercoaster.