“I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth; and truth rewarded me.”
~ Simone de Beauvoir, All Said and Done
The powerful story of my brother, Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked across North America, walked into the wilderness of Alaska and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not only author Jon Krakauer, but readers around the world. Krakauer’s 1996 book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller translated into thirty-one languages. In 2007, Sean Penn’s compelling film by the same name furthered the global reach of Chris’s story and deepened the mystery behind his legend. As a consultant to both Jon and Sean, I knew it was important that they understood the deep-rooted reasons why Chris disappeared. But I wasn’t ready to share with the rest of the world what had driven my brother to such extremes, and both Jon and Sean honored my request to limit what they revealed. Throughout the twenty plus years since Chris’s death, I have wrestled with that decision.
I wasn’t prepared for the messages I would receive every day from such diverse people throughout the United States and various countries around the world. These accounts of how they’d been affected by Chris’s story were as different as they were similar, and reading them was both joyous and heart wrenching, because they served as constant reminders that I’d done a disservice to Chris through my unwillingness to share his entire story. Our story.
We had grown up in the same troubled household, sharing the secret reality that was our dysfunctional and violent family dynamic. I knew why Chris had embraced the harsh wilderness of Alaska, and why he had done it alone. I’d learned from my own private journey into a life without my brother and best friend, that the greatest inspiration comes only from that which Chris valued above all else – what he referred to often in the margins of his beloved books and in the letters he wrote to me before embarking on his great adventures: TRUTH.
In The Wild Truth, I tell my own story while filling in the blanks of his. During the past two decades, I often felt that I was living for the two of us as I found my own path: as a daughter, as a sister and the youngest of eight siblings, as I made mistakes in personal relationships and created success as an entrepreneur, and most importantly in the priorities I realized as a mother. The lessons I have learned are now on the pages of a new book, and I am confident it will help those who read them as much as it has helped me to write them down.
~ Carine McCandless