Riddle (Senior Writer/Whitworth Univ.) chronicles her life growing up in the Montana wilderness.
The author relates how her seemingly idyllic childhood was darkened by the shadow of child abuse. In 1977, her parents moved their family to Troy, a small Montana town with a population of 950 people, where they purchased 21 wooded acres. Her family thrived while her father built a log home and they lived in a camper for three years. Before the move to the wilderness, they had lived in Butte, Montana, where the author and her brother had attended day care for several days a week. There, Riddle, then 5, was sexually abused by the director's husband. She kept silent about it because of his threat that he would kill her brother should she reveal his abuse. Though the author was eventually able to push the incident out of her mind, she was afflicted with nightmares and anxiety. In adolescence, she had dark sexual fantasies that frightened and shamed her. She attributes this partly to her passivity in enduring a relationship with a sexually abusive, demanding boyfriend, which exacerbated her anxiety. Riddle writes that her willingness to endure it was likely the result of the aftermath of the abuse she suffered as a child. After graduating college, she took a temporary job teaching English to students in Japan. While there, she found solace by holding a stone taken from a creek near her childhood home, but she was afflicted with severe anxiety and had to return home prematurely. Diagnosed with clinical depression and belatedly with celiac disease (which she believes to be stress-related), Riddle has continued to receive therapy and medication. Now happily married, although childless by her own decision, the author has slowly come to terms with the brutality she suffered as a child. Riddle writes movingly about the healing bonds of family, but by the end, her story grows a bit thin.
Evocative prose illuminates the narrative’s people and places, but the author’s prolonged self-absorption eventually becomes tedious.