In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

In the Wilderness Coming of Age in Unknown Country Poet Kim Barnes grew up in northern Idaho in the isolated camps where her father worked as a logger and her mother made a modest but comfortable home for her husband and two children Their lives were

  • Title: In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
  • Author: Kim Barnes
  • ISBN: 9780307758842
  • Page: 299
  • Format: ebook
  • Poet Kim Barnes grew up in northern Idaho, in the isolated camps where her father worked as a logger and her mother made a modest but comfortable home for her husband and two children Their lives were short on material wealth, but long on the riches of family and friendship, and the great sheltering power of the wilderness But in the mid 1960 s, as automation and a decliPoet Kim Barnes grew up in northern Idaho, in the isolated camps where her father worked as a logger and her mother made a modest but comfortable home for her husband and two children Their lives were short on material wealth, but long on the riches of family and friendship, and the great sheltering power of the wilderness But in the mid 1960 s, as automation and a declining economy drove and loggers out of the wilderness and into despair, Kim s father dug in and determined to stay It was then the family turned fervently toward Pentecostalism It was then things changed.In the Wilderness is the poet s own account of a journey toward adulthood against an interior landscape every bit as awesome, as beautiful, and as fraught with hidden peril as the great forest itself It is a story of how both faith and geography can shape the heart and soul, and of the uncharted territory we all must enter to face our demons Above all, it is the clear eyed and moving account of a young woman s coming of terms with her family, her homeland, her spirituality, and herself.In presenting Kim Barnes the 1995 PENJerard Fund Award for a work in progress by an emerging female writer, the panel of judges wrote that In the Wilderness is far than a personal memoir, adding that it stands almost as a cautionary example of the power of good prose to distinguish whatever it touches Indeed, In the Wilderness is an extraordinary work, courageous, candid, and exquisitely written.From the Trade Paperback edition.

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    One thought on “In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

    1. P Bright

      This was a fabulous book! It was beautifully written. Often disturbing, it is a fascinating story of growing up and finding one's way in the world. I look forward to reading more from this author.

    2. Jodi

      This was a book that the library is holding discussions for. Not really into book discussions, but wanted to see what it was all about. Started slow and then got really interesting. Had many of the same thoughts as the main character growing up with religion and then turning away when in middle school. THis is a book that I think all parents should read. It shows what can happen to daughters when we fail to listen to them and just dictate.

    3. Michele

      Kim Barnes paints a thoughtful picture of logging life during its transition from smaller logging companies run by families who lived in the forests where they worked, to industry giants who stripped the land. It's not an environmental memoir at all, but she really does share the beauty of their lifestyle without getting bogged down with bucolic fluff.The heart of the story is about a girl struggling with her family's religion and values, and trying to figure out where her value lies in that wor [...]

    4. Elaine Mansfield

      This book about a young woman brought up in a Fundamentalist Christian community and family is extremely relevant for our times. Beautiful and poetic language. Surprising twists and turns that kept me fascinated with the story.

    5. Mac Ford

      My writing professor read the baptism scene aloud to us in college and I never forgot it. A fascinating book with some really beautiful, harsh truths about religion.

    6. Heather

      2013: It's an interesting experience to re-read a book like this after a major change in worldview. When I first read this I was a religious college student living in the beautiful landscape described in the book. It haunted me. I couldn't describe why. But I valued Kim's life experience and the book became one of the many I own that I checked for and carefully packed every time I moved. One that I would never loan.Recently a coworker told me that she had left her Pentecostal home at age 16, no [...]

    7. Efox

      I first read In the Wilderness when I was in high school. I remember being thrilled to be reading a book that was a coming of age story about a girl who grew up in Idaho - just like me! And I was profoundly inspired and for a brief time decided I would be a writer too. That didn't exactly last, but as I re-read Barne's intoxicatingly beautiful prose, a lot of memories flooded back to me. The story about growing up in a logging family that turned to fundamentalism and eventually was wretched away [...]

    8. Sarah Wells

      The first of Barnes's memoirs, "In the Wilderness" captured the coming-of-age of a young lady in a fundamentalist Pentacostal home - the obedience of youth, the rebellion of early teen years, and the acquiescence of a young adult. It was odd reading these two memoirs in reverse order, knowing what was coming for this young naive girl. I appreciate Kim's thorough attention to detail, descriptive, vivid language, and careful, respectful handling of family and church. Barnes's non-judgmental honest [...]

    9. Charles

      I felt very close to this book. First, it is beautifully written. The events in the forest of Idaho while more intense than mine in camps and on hunting trips as a kid in California. Second, somehow, I don't remember how, we ended up in very fundamentalist churches in Las Vegas. Vegas was a very Mormon and fundamentalist town once. Maybe we ended up in those churches because they were the closest to the house. We went to church all day Sundays and three nights a week or more. Nothing was permitt [...]

    10. Nancy

      book group, Polly's choice. A good read, Polly. The opening portion of this book confused me with the generational jumble of characters, but the writing got better and better. The fundamentalist religion theme was only minimally interesting, but it stimulated great conversation in our group meeting. My favorite part was the reference to the land and how the main character's personality was somehow reflected in the earth experiences which influenced her. The sensory sensitivity of the author to h [...]

    11. Diane

      I picked this up at a used bookstore because it was about growing up near Lewiston, Idaho, and I lived in Idaho not far from Lewiston for several years. Barnes tells a nice story of growing up in poor rural conditions and particularly does a nice job of describing life in a fundamentalist Christian family. I felt that the book needed a better editor - it was sort of like I was reading a draft instead of the final work. For example, a significant chapter on a hunting trip that is supposed to help [...]

    12. Jacqueline Hopkins

      This book brought out so many memories of my childhood growing up in Lewiston since moving there in 1965. Kim was a year older than myself, but I graduated with her cousin, Les, she mentions in her book and we hung out a few times. The rebelliousness and the drugs we all tried during the 70s was a natural occurrence growing up, but unfortunately, because I was not brought up in a religious household, it was hard for me to understand what all Kim had gone through, other than the taste of freedom [...]

    13. Kate

      Pulitzer prize finalist memoir of growing up in a serious Pentecostal, logging family in Idaho in the sixties. bright young woman pushing against the restrictions imposed by church and family makes for an element of the disaster parenting genre such as in The Glass Castle and Donʻt Letʻs Go To The Dogs Tonight. Though it is old now (originally published in 1996) and so likely to have succumbed to the weed or perish ethos of US public libraries, the writing is good and the depiction of an era i [...]

    14. Skylar Hatfield

      I enjoyed the first section of this book. There are so many memoirs out there. This one began in a unique voice describing a fresh setting and history. As the book progressed, I felt less connected to the author. I did not sense that she took any responsibility for her reckless choices. Many people in life suffer painful experiences without resorting to self destruction and self-pity. I would have liked to have more information about her healthy life with her husband. The book ends on a blue not [...]

    15. Sherri

      This is a lovely memoir of family, faith, and place. She captured the nurturing and cruelty of her fundamentalist upbringing, the ways she could know and understand her parents and the ways in which she could not, the beauty of her childhood home and what it gave her. I really loved reading it, especially the parts about growing up in the forest of northern Idaho.One of my favorite passages: "I think of how long we search to find that place we might call ours, where we might feel we have found a [...]

    16. Melissa

      Hmm. This book sounded intriguing!The beginning was a bit of a depressing slog.I liked parts of Barnes' writing, to the point of reading it aloud just to hear how it sounded.However, I felt some things were missing. For example, from early in Barnes' life, her grandmother plays an important role. But when Barnes becomes a teen, her grandmother seems to make only anecdotal appearances in the book. What happened in her relationship to her grandmother?Oddly, I had to push myself to pick up the book [...]

    17. Andrea

      It's not so secret that I'm in love with Idaho, which is why I picked up another book by Idaho writer Kim Barnes. Strong beginning where she tells of her growing up in a logging family; not so strong late middle and ending of her experiences when Idaho logging begins to fade and her family moves to the city. I think my lack of enthusiasm here is due to the limited insight she gave as to why things went so terribly wrong for her and some parts don't blend as seamlessly as they should or elaborate [...]

    18. Linda Webb

      This memoir rates at the top of the list, compared to other memoirs I've read. Her story is compelling as she relates growing up in the forests of northern Idaho and living in a extreme fundamentalist Christian family. This was a quick book to read; her prose is beautiful to read. One cannot leave this book without a feeling for the wilderness, family, rebellion, longing, and austerity. I spent part of my childhood in Headquarters, so Kim's writing brought back many fond memories of the logging [...]

    19. Katie Bliss

      I think this book spoke to me a little more than the normal person because I could identify (to a certain extent) with Kim Barnes' conservative upbringing and the constant struggle against temptation, finding it hard to see the balance between being pleasing to God while still a sinner. Her church and religion made it very hard to do this as it was very legalistic and the most influential minister in her life ended up showing very little grace, and I could understand Barnes' hurt and confusion. [...]

    20. John

      Central and Northern Idaho are, in ways, worlds apart from Southern Idaho, but the central wilderness is a common bond knitting us together. For that reason, I liked Barnes' book a lot. Her writing is descriptive, clear, and engaging. She tells of her experience growing up in a working class, fundamentalist Christian household in rural Idaho, her struggles with faith, and her struggle to be independent from her overbearing father.What I enjoyed most about this book was the shared experience of r [...]

    21. Darcy

      A friend loaned me this book after seeing another book on growing up in the Clearwater forest area. I had spoken of a wonderful experience I had in my youth going to a backwoods church. The participants were varied - all religions, backgrounds, income. Many wore threadbare clothing and some no shoes. There was a woman speaking in tongues! My friend told be this book would remind me of that experience. Boy was she correct. I really connected with the author because her story, while not my own, wa [...]

    22. Wendy

      This book is autobiographical. My only fascination with this book stemmed from the fact that the author grew up in the timber country of northern Idaho, an area I know well. I also have ancestral ties to the timber industry so I understood much of what she described. However, her life and family atmosphere were foreign to my experiences (thank God!). I had a hard time comprehending that someone so young could get into so much trouble and how completely she and her parents cut themselves off from [...]

    23. Shamela

      This is the most significant memoir I've ever read. Your mileage may vary, but given my background and baggage, this book just slayed me--then built me back up again.I've had the privilege of hearing her speak and lecture several times now, and she's articulate and wonderful on the art of the memoir. One thing she's said, that I feel truly informs the work she does here, is that "You should not write a memoir for revenge."

    24. Jeannette

      I read this for a book group and wasn't looking forward to it. I expected a lot more prosthelytizing, given that the book was about her life as a child faith healer. However, Barnes dealt with her evangelical upbringing, and her place in it, with raw honesty and humility. Her career as a poet allowed her to describe places and events in a way that drew me deeply into her story. I loved this book. It has earned a permanent place in my library.

    25. Sally

      I realize that all the books that I've added to my reviews tonight; I loved. I guess that means I don't read books that don't hold any appeal - duh! Do any of us? Anyway, the memoir of growing up as a the daughter of a logger and a mother who made a home for her family. Truthfully faces the desperate times of family and a way of life when automation and economics change the way generations have lived.

    26. Ann Michael

      Barnes' writing style is poetic in the sense of marvelous accuracy and calm observation, but the narrative of this memoir skips about a little, leaving this reader a bit confused. The insights of life in a fundamentalist family (and the closed society and petty issues within small churches) are interestingd her descriptions of life in the logging areas are fabulous. All in all, a recommendation for a good read, if not a must-read.

    27. Stephanie

      When I first started to read this book I thought "Oh, another coming of age book" but Kim really has a unique perspective of a very strict almost cult like religious up bringing that not only kept her close to nature it also kept her on of the fringe of society. This was a good read with scenes that still pop into my head every now and then - it's one I want to read again.

    28. Patricia Murphy

      With great levels of heart and description, Barnes paints a stunning portrait of the emotional and physical hardships of an isolating life in severe conditions. Suffering from both a cold father and a cold climate, Barnes navigates her way into adulthood on a path that could have been so much more evenly paved had those around her made better choices.

    29. Cynthia

      A memoir of Paradise Lost. Kim's family moves to Idaho, where her father works as a logger. Mom is beautiful and her parents are very much in love, but Kim's dad has a dark side. He turns to religion and leaves the forest he loves because he thinks that's what God wants. Kim and her mother are forced to confirm to his ideals of Christian womanhood.

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