As humans, we each have instilled within us a desire to explore the unfamiliar and to live as thoroughly and as memorably as possible. Should routines begin to dull, we are prompted to examine our own lives and passions, and to reinvigorate ourselves by pursuing the likes and interests that propel us to a new sense of meaning and purpose.
The true story of Chris McCandless, the son of a well-to-do family and his solo venture to the Alaskan wilderness, is a tale of identity, independence, and an unquenchable pursuit of the self through the simplest, albeit most unforgiving force—nature. A modern-day Thoreau, Chris McCandless escapes a tense family life and sheds all familiarity in order to cultivate a path for himself. He drops his family name and takes on the persona of “Alexander Supertramp,” as he aimlessly travels what is unfamiliar to him and lives off the land. As always, the road to adventure points West, as Chris meets a host of characters on his hitchhike throughout the nation.
Ill-equipped, yet an idealist, Chris does not survive his journey. (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. It's fact.) Journalist Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild retells the story of Chris McCandless through Chris’ postcards and journal, as discovered with Chris’ body. This is not a tale of death, but rather, a philosophical question of why Chris needed this journey, who he met along the way, and how he influenced others. To this day, adventurers, curiosity-seekers, and free spirits alike continue to visit the “Magic Bus” in which Chris died, along the rough Alaskan Stampede Trail.
As the number of the returned increases, the government and military attempt to control the situation. Intertwined in the human emotions are questions of politics and religion. The chilling story grabbed my attention from the first chapter and I kept reading to find out what will happen to the returned. The book provokes questions about death, grief, and acceptance. The Returned has been optioned for a TV show on ABC, titled Resurrection set to air in March 2014. The Sundance Channel is currently airing a French drama set around a similar topic, also titled The Returned. I’ll be tuning in to see how this haunting book plays out on the small screen.
While many of my beloved authors (Marian Keyes, Jennifer Weiner, Meg Cabot), who write in this genre, tend to keep things lighthearted and fun, Green’s story was both full of that playful, fast-paced style yet she weaves in a more serious tone, which I came away appreciating. I was refreshed by the realness of the different generations of female characters she introduces through the two families in this story. Real life issues are dealt with in this story, and yet there’s still enough of that enjoyable escapism that draws me to a Chick Lit story, to keep my interest. You’ll walk away from this book feeling as content as the characters are with the outcome of their life decisions. I’ll definitely be picking up another Jane Green book.
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