Ok, so I read her book and would like to share my thoughts here.
Let me start with 2 general things:
1. Serves them right, all those unnerving Krakauer bashers of the past few years, whether it be other journalists or all those guys claiming they had new theories about how Chris really died, but finally wrote mostly about what they think were the reasons why naughty Jon Krakauer deliberately omitted to write their “truth” in his book at the time.
I really like the fact that he now wrote the foreword of Carine’s book and also got some nice mentioning in some chapters as well.
I mean, I never met that guy and certainly wouldn’t say his book is perfect, but I still think he did an awesome job back then, researching for years and trying hard to get as many pieces together as possible, in order to tell the story as truly as possible, within the boudaries of what he was allowed to publish then. And most importantly, without his work, none of these self-important new-theory-writers would have that kind of topic to show off with.
2. Serves them right, all the superficial audience (or readers) of ITW, who stupidly and sometimes even dispespectfully criticized Chris for having left his oh so loving family! For a person with a minimum of common sense, Krakauer’s book and the movie plus maybe some further publications on the internet should have been enough evidence that there was something fundamentally wrong in the McCandless family. But now with all the additional insights Carine gives us in her book, nobody will ever again expect to be taken seriously by stating that Chris’s leaving was a selfish act. Ok, I’ve seen that there are still some reviews of that kind in amazon, but I’m quite sure those users are either Billie and Walt themselves (or people they pay for it) or other really cruel parents.
Comments on the content in detail:
All in all, the things she wrote confirmed the impressions gained from prior publications and stuff on the internet: Walt and Billie still don’t have the guts to admit their failure as parents and try to mask their bad conscience with ridiculous lies, and that’s why Carine and her half-siblings have all decided to cut the contact.
Still: even though there had been quite a few allusions to Walt’s violence against Billie as well as her own personal spinelessness before, I really wouldn’t have expected that things had gone THAT far. By which I mean both Walt’s and Billie’s ways of behaving with … well, all of their family members. To me, all the details about the violence and their refusing to take resposibility for their actions, even years and decades later, is definitely what shocked and also disgusted me most in this book.
The letters from Chris are quite interesting to read, however the essential stuff like when he wrote her that he was going to “divorce” their parents had already been published in Krakauer’s book. I just wasn’t aware (or didn’t remember) that it had been so clear (in the letters to Carine) that Chris was really going to leave right after his college graduation.
Of course, we still don’t know why he left on his journey without really saying good-bye to Carine nor why he chose not to contact her at all in all those months and then years. That still doesn’t really fit her description of the loving and protecting older brother.
But maybe it does fit somehow, given the fact that he was raised by Walt and Billie.
What I mean is that, for both Chris and Carine, the way they grew up necessarily had to cause some kind of damage.
For Carine, it’s more plain to see: Getting married at age 18 to a guy who soon became violent, quite a classical result of growing up with abusive parents.
Then there’s the fact that over and over again she was ready to forgive the unforgivable to her parents. To a certain point, I think that’s ok, after all, everybody deserves and 2nd chance, and maybe even a third or forth… But after a while, she should have realized that they had crossed the line too far and too many times; so she should have ended this whole thing much much earlier! But again, this incapacity to set limits in order to preserve her own well-being is a typical reaction for an unloved child as well. For most probably the same reasons, she also waited so long to talk/write about the whole thing.
And after having read this whole story, I suspect that the way Carine seems to defend her brother failing to contact her in 2 years, as well as the fact that Chris actually didn’t contact her, also both have something to do with that “damage” they got from their parents’ “education style”. But please don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that Chris and Carine really loved each other as much as siblings can, and that they seriously cared for each other and all that, I really do NOT question that for a second. But I do believe that with what they’ve been through with their parents, both of them had to develop some kind of interpersonal dysfunction (or whatever they call it
) that somehow affected their ability to take responsibility under certain circumstances.
I even dare to go as far as to suspect that the toxic childhood home was not only the reason why Chris left his family, but also the reason why he failed to survive in the end!
However, both Chris and Carine had/have something else, something that kept them from becoming as disgusting as their parents. What’s that and where did they get it from? We still know far too little about all they experienced in their childhood and youth, but I imagine their half-siblings had something to do with it. Those kids who had the same horrible father, but – unlike Chris and Carine – a loving mother, who finally had the strength to do what’s best for herself and her children.
So, well, I think that’s it for now.
I’m curious about your thoughts.