Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis, is a memoir based on the events of the author’s rape and how she was able to find healing in the wilderness.
Aspen Matis lives in a picture perfect town in Massachusetts with her wealthy parents and all-star older brother. Her overbearing, perfectionist mother calls Aspen her “doll girl” and treats her as such; Aspen has never had to do a single thing for herself. Wanting reinvent herself, Aspen leaves home to attend college in Colorado.
On her second night of college Aspen gets raped, leaving her shattered and confused. The rape makes Aspen distrusting of men and even less sure of who she is. No one she confides in about her rape seems to understand or empathize with her, including her family.
In a last ditch effort to reclaim her life after her rape, Aspen leaves school to go hike the Pacific Crest Trail- 2,650 miles of desert and wilderness from Mexico to Canada.
In the woods where most would feel scared and alone, Aspen feels comforted and strengthened by the absence of people because people have failed her so many times. On her grueling journey through the wilderness, Aspen is able to find herself and learns how to survive on her own.
Girl in the Woods is an incredible tale of survival and adventure. Through her beautiful, poetic writing, the author reveals wisdom beyond her years. In her story, Matis examines the shame, abandonment, and blame rape victims too often experience. Matis holds nothing back, bravely sharing her experiences with readers. Raw and inspiring, Woods will make readers want to go do their own wilderness soul searching. Girl in the Woods is an empowering must read for young women.
“I could finally see clearly that if I hadn’t walked away from school, through devastating beauty alone on the Pacific Crest Trail, met rattlesnakes and bears, fording frigid and remote rivers as deep as I am tall- feeling terror and the gratitude that followed the realization that I’d survived rape- I’d have remained lost, maybe for my whole life. The trail had shown me how to change.” –Aspen Matis, Girl in the Woods
(The author is donating 5% of any royalties she earns from this book to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the hotline she called to seek help after her rape.)