Read The Source of All Things: A Memoir by Tracy Ross Online


Tracy Ross never knew her biological father, who died after a brain aneurysm when she was still an infant. So when her mother married Donnie, a gregarious man with an all-wheel-drive jeep and a love of hiking, four-year-old Tracy was ecstatic to have a father figure in her life. A loving and devoted step-father, Donnie introduced Tracy’s family to the joys of fishing, deerTracy Ross never knew her biological father, who died after a brain aneurysm when she was still an infant. So when her mother married Donnie, a gregarious man with an all-wheel-drive jeep and a love of hiking, four-year-old Tracy was ecstatic to have a father figure in her life. A loving and devoted step-father, Donnie introduced Tracy’s family to the joys of fishing, deer hunting, camping, and hiking among the most pristine mountains of rural Idaho. Donnie was everything Tracy dreamed a dad would be—protective, brave, and kind. But when his dependence on his eight-year-old daughter’s companionship went too far, everything changed. Once Donnie’s nighttime visits began, Tracy’s childhood became a confusing blend of normal little girl moments and the sickening, secret invasion of her safety. Tormented by this profound betrayal, Tracy struggled to reconcile deeply conflicting feelings about her stepfather: on the one hand, fear and loathing, on the other hand, the love any daughter would have for her father. It was not until she ran away from home as a teenager that her family was forced to confront the abuse—and it tore them apart. At sixteen, realizing that she must take control of her own future, Tracy sent herself to boarding school and began the long slow process of recovery. There, in the woods of Northern Michigan, Tracy felt called back to the natural world she had loved as a child. Over the next twenty years, the mountains and rivers of North America provided Tracy with strength, confidence, comfort, and inspiration. From trekking through the glaciers of Alaska to guiding teenagers through the deserts of Utah, Tracy pushed herself to the physical limit on her way to becoming whole again. Yet, as she came into her own, found love, and even started a family, Tracy realized that in order to truly heal she had to confront her stepfather about the demons from the past haunting them both. The Source of All Things is a stunning, unforgettable story about a wounded daughter, her stepfather, and a mistake that has taken thirty years and thousands of miles of raw wilderness to reconcile. Only Tracy can know if Donnie is forgivable. But one thing is for certain: In no other story of abuse does a survivor have as much strength, compassion, bravery, and spirit as Tracy displays in The Source of All Things ...

Title : The Source of All Things: A Memoir
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781439172971
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Source of All Things: A Memoir Reviews

  • Kelli
    2019-03-15 14:58

    As others have said, it feels almost wrong to give this book anything but glowing praise. Writing this survival story must have taken a kind of bravery I cannot begin to imagine. My heart breaks for Tracy Ross. Not only was she continually abused by her favorite person/her savior/her father and continually failed by almost everyone she encountered but she was plagued by the aftereffects of this terrible abuse, trickling into every aspect of her life no matter how hard and fast she tried to outrun it or hike away from it. I have no comments or judgements about her lifestyle choices and relationships except to say that I hope her path has led her to a fulfilling, peaceful existence today. In terms of the book itself, apparently it was an award winning essay before it was turned into a book. I felt that before I knew that. There was a lot going on here...this girl went to a few schools, moved almost constantly, had jobs, friends, relationships...but it all felt undeveloped from a literary perspective. Friends with whom she would spend a summer or drive cross country, boyfriends, her relationship with her mom, her decisions were often explained in just a few sentences, so I often felt like I had missed something critical. For this reason it took me a long time to finish this book and I had a hard time connecting to it. Maybe that is the point...maybe the way she wrote the book was demonstrative of what she was feeling: scattered, not worth examining or discussing, surface. The last five pages were the best writing in the book and proof that she is capable of deep expression, which is why I suspect the style may have been intentional, it just didn't work for me. 2.5 stars.

  • Zoë
    2019-03-09 12:51

    The Source of All Things by Tracy Ross is a memoir centering around the fact that as a young child Ross was repeatedly abused by her stepfather- the man she called Dad since her biological father had passed away when she was only seven months old. Ross loved the new man in her life who filled out her family and did wonderful things like taking them camping in the wilderness. That all changed when she was first sexually abused at only eight years old on a camping trip. It was the first of dozens of attacks, and as Ross finally had the courage to come forward and stop the abuse, she had to deal with the fact that her family didn't believe her and her stepfather was unapologetic. After decades of hidden emotional struggles, she finally confronts her attacker, the man she still calls dad, on a camping trip to the same place where the cycle began. The Source of All Things is Ross' story of how abuse impacted her life, as well as the legacy she hopes to leave for her own children.The first thing I want to say about this book should be obvious, but I just want to make sure: I am reviewing this as a work of literature. Ross is an incredibly strong woman to have overcome all she has gone through, and it goes without saying that it must have taken incredible bravery to write this memoir in the first place. That said, as inspiring as it is for her to reflect on her abuse and how she was able to move past it, I did have serious issues with the book itself. Ross does a great job at letting the reader know what it is like in the mind of somebody who has been abused, how it lead to a cycle of bad behaviours including an abusive relationship with a man named Colin. Reflecting on one of their very first dates, Ross writes: "It took a long time for Colin to calm himself enough to accept my apology. I stared past him, wishing I could resume dancing. But when someone tells you how wounded he is- partially on account of your actions- a pair of shackles materializes out of the air and binds you together. I knew I'd crossed a line. I also knew there was no retracting."Despite knowing instantly that Colin is bad news, Ross doesn't know how to escape his grip on her life. It is devastating to read about her putting herself in harm's way after finally having gotten away from her childhood abuse. Behaviours such as this are unfortunate but understandable, and from what I gathered in the book, quite unsurprising for victims of abuse which can severely damage their self-esteem. Still, too often I found myself knowing what Ross was doing but not quite understanding the why, I wished she would have elaborating more on what she was thinking when she made particular decisions.Often, I found Ross' actions very conflicting and confusing. She wants to be independent of her mother and stepfather, but continues to accept money from them. She lets them pay for the wedding, but then refuses to let her stepfather walk her down the aisle. She seems to sway back and forth in so many of her decisions, wanting to have it both ways. At times, the reason for this seems clear- that she doesn't want to make a hassle- but then she does something that directly conflicts with her previous actions and as a reader I became confused again.Ross also allows her stepfather to spend a lot of time with her children, even though he has never really come clean about how he abused her. Then, when he finally does, she decides he's not allowed to see them anymore (or at least very rarely). It is hard for me to fathom in what kind of situation a mother would allow her abuser access to her own children, and it is also something that Ross appears to struggle with. That said, Ross' decision that because her stepfather has finally been honest with her, he should no longer be able to see her children, doesn't really make sense to me as a reader. That's not to say it's wrong- but I read this book to get insight into her situation and the lack of explanation about her actions often left me puzzled and wanting more. The other problem I had with The Source of All Things is the extensive detail about all of Ross' wilderness adventures like living in Alaska. These sorts of experiences may be interesting to some people, but I was expecting a memoir, not a travel journal, and oftentimes the book got bogged down and distracted by all of this unrelated information. The memoir itself is based on an article Ross wrote, and I can't help but wonder if when she went to elaborate she got quite off-topic in the process. The part of the book that did touch me especially was when Ross talks about what she wants her legacy to be for her own sons, children she never imagined she would have because she felt so damaged by her own childhood. Writing about them, she says: "One day, when they are old enough to finally read this, I’ll want my sons to know they rescued me. That even though I was terrified by their raw, needy bodies, I loved them the second I touched the silky hairs covering their rice-paper skin. Ever since they were born, they have forced me out of the darkness and into a bigger, happier world."The Source of All Things definitely shows what the impact of abuse can be long-term on a person and it is an incredibly brave book, and portions of it were quite successful, but I found it too often was off-topic and unclear to be completely successful as a memoir.

  • Jamie Kline
    2019-03-11 16:07

    To read more of my reviews, please visit my book review blog, BookerellaI received this book for free through Shelf Awareness and was so eager to start reading it. As much as I love fiction, I also love reading true stories because there's no better way to be able to connect with characters than when you know they actually exist. Tracey Ross appears to have a good life when she was very small, living with her loving mom and older brother. Her dad died on a hiking trip when she was a baby, so she doesn't have any memories of him and no father figure in her life. Then one day her mom meets a guy named Donnie and suddenly she felt like she hit the jackpot. He's everything any kid could ask for in a dad and he dotes on her like she is his own, like she's his favorite person in the world. This fragile existence carries on for a while, until one fateful camping trip when something happens that young Tracey can't explain. She knows someone touched her inappropriately and assumes, like her mom does, that someone must have broken into their camper in the middle of the night. It further confuses her when her step-father takes her aside and explains that he was simply "tucking her in". From then on things get worse and the abuse becomes more frequent and obvious. This man who was once her champion, who was her favorite person and she felt safe with now became her own personal bogey man. After years of enduring this and her mom refusing to believe her daughter's claims, she finally runs away to escape. This book follows Tracey as she finally escapes the man she once loved as a father, attempts to move on with her life, and eventually seek to get the one thing that has eluded her all of these years: her step-father's confession.My thoughts: This book was heartbreaking. No child should ever have to go through this, they are innocent and look to their parents to protect them from all of the evils of the world. But what can they do when the worst evil of all is living with them? I can't imagine everything that Tracey went through and to say she had a rough time getting her life back on track would be an understatement. It's very easy to see that nature held an escape for her from all of her feelings. The wilderness was a place she knew well and held very dear to her heart; it made her feel whole again. If she hadn't had something that she felt so strongly about, who knows where she might have ended up? I was so angry at her mother, the fact that Tracey told her that Donnie was molesting her and she just refused to hear it. As if her young daughter would make up a story so horrifying. She really didn't even listen to her at all; and even after Tracey ran away she still was adamant that Donnie was innocent. It would be almost impossible to get over that; to go from having two parents who you love and you think love you, to not having anyone. I would never turn my back on my child, I don't know any mother that could. It just astounds me. Tracey is extremely courageous, both in telling this story for the whole world to hear and for finally confronting her father about the molestation. She's really been able to turn her life around and that is truly remarkable. I really enjoyed reading this, even as I was horrified by some of the events I could not put it down. It made me laugh at times, pulled at my heartstrings, and made me cheer for this woman who was able to overcome unbelievable emotional pain and not let her abuser destroy her life.My rating: 4/5 stars

  • Josephine
    2019-02-23 18:37

    When you pick up a memoir like Tracy Ross’ “The Source of All Things,” you almost feel like you can’t say anything bad about it because it’s about something really dark and horrible that happened to her…and by default, it’s like you’re expected to applaud her courage for writing about such a traumatic period in her life. But…I almost got the sense that she was just skimming the surface — as if she were afraid to dive deeper…and that’s at odds with what she ultimately did, which was to confront her stepfather about the years of sexual abuse she suffered through with him.When you read this memoir, you understand the conflict — Tracy loved her stepfather.When he came into her family’s lives, it was like he helped to fill this void that had been left when Tracy’s father died from a brain aneurysm.And in the beginning, he was this perfect, devoted father whom she loved more than anything.But as she writes about all of this — and about how his nighttime visits shattered her sense of safety and trust — you do get the sense that she’s holding back from looking too deeply at the past. The narrative skips very quickly from this betrayal to her running away to a period of time in her young adulthood where she’s off trekking through the glaciers of Alaska or guiding teens through the deserts of Utah…and it just never feels like she got on that road to healing because none of them got the therapy they needed to recover from this.And, again, I’m reluctant to say anything but positive things because of Ross’ bravery in writing about this…but at the same time, this is definitely one book that I wish I’d taken a pass on — not because of the subject matter (because you all know that the types of books I read are about people who have endured the most horrendous types of trauma and yet persevered and survived) but because of the way the book was writen.

  • Terry
    2019-03-07 20:46

    Once I read that this book was expanded from an award-winning essay, it makes sense why I felt like it was two different books smushed together, or, maybe more meanly, an essay with a LOOOOTTTTT of padding stuffed into it to make it a book. There's Ross's story of her abuse, and then there's Ross's memoir of her outdoor-adventure-living-life (quite similar to Pam Houston's books, although I wouldn't say if you like Pam Houston that you would like Ross's book--Ross's tone is much darker and more cynical/pessimisstic than Houston's tone). The "problem" with Ross's story of her abuse is a criticism I've leveled at a few other books--it doesn't quite seem like Ross has come to any kind of definitive way of living with what happened to her. That may be, though, the point--there is no "plateau" a sexual abuse survivor reaches where she or he comes to final terms with it and finds a way to integrate it into his or her adult life in a neat and tidy way. And that may be the truth, which makes, unfortunately, for a rather unsatisfying "ending" to the arc of a book. Also, I was a bit shaken by her desire to make her abuser a significant, trusted part of her adult life--while that may be the truth of the matter for many survivors, it makes for an unsettling "story", and one that maybe should have actually been explored further, instead of sort of addressed in fits and starts as it is in this particular narrative. Actually I would have liked a lot less of the outdoor-adventure-having part of her life--save that for a separate book--and more of an exploration of what it is to shape an adult life, and an adult life as a parent, as a sexual abuse survivor. But I walked away from the book feeling Ross hasn't even sorted that out for herself yet.

  • Tracy
    2019-03-13 15:06

    As a young girl, Tracy Ross was sexually abused by her stepfather. This is her story. It's a story about how a man can destroy a childhood and how that child is changed irrevocably- confused between love and hate, wanting everything to be normal again, yet knowing there is no normal. Tracy Ross was desperately looking for a savior and she didn't find it even after she was brave enough to tell. Her mother didn't save her and the "system" didn't save her. Eventually she had to find her own way out. Which brought her years later to the ultimate confrontation- asking her father what happened and perhaps the most unanswerable question, "Why?". While this is obviously an emotionally wrought subject, I felt like there was something lacking in the writing. I felt Tracy's anger and outrage and her struggle with still being tied to her family, but the writing itself seemed methodical as if each word were carefully placed. It felt dry at times, without artistry or poetic composition. Tracy Ross is a journalist, writing articles for Backpacker and Skiing, so her memoir read like this type of writing, which is very good, but I would have liked to have seen more. I understand some other reviewers' surprise that she still had an attachment to her father for so long, but this is very common with abuse victims, and I don't think it's fair to judge unless you've walked in their shoes. The abuser has immensely altered what love is supposed to be. And as Ms. Ross pointed out in the book, studies have shown that the chemical make-up of an abused child's brain has been changed and is different from that of a child who hasn't been abused. Though, I will concur, I was quite taken aback in the book's acknowledgments when she thanks her father and says she's grateful (!) to him and her mother for the grace to let her tell this story. I just wanted to shake her for that one.All in all, this was a worthwhile read and would be beneficial for other abuse victims. I especially liked that she had the gift of nature as an escape and that she has used that in her life as a positive outlet as well as a career. Thank you to the publisher for this advanced reader's copy.

  • Natalie
    2019-03-19 16:43

    Ross did a great job with this book. Her journey is laid out clearly and she covers difficult terrain (literally) with smooth writing that gets her point across beautifully. Unfortunately, she glosses over several parts of her story that, I believe, are more important than she even realizes. My issues with the book are also personal. The fact that she continues her relationship with her abuser through her entire life and never seems able to break the ties to her parents, even though she seems to want them out of her life, really bothers me. In fact, one of her last "thank yous" is to her parents and brother. While I don't believe her sibling has any fault in her abuse, her mother and father have clearly neglected and abused her, and in the end her mother never seems capable of seeing her own role in the abuse.The forgiveness given and taken back over and over is realistic in her story, but you are left feeling that all of it is completely unresolved. The end of the book is a muddy area of sudden realizations (her father had been drugging her in order to attack her, a last minute discovery at the end of the book that is almost an afterthought instead of clear evidence that her father was planning her attacks)and Ross finally creates a boundary between her own children and her abuser which finally quieted the screaming in my mind for her to protect her kids throughout her story.Her first marriage to a man named Colin is briefly described but I felt like there was a lot more to explore there. She ends up leaving him and, apparently, has no feelings towards this abusive relationship. She simply breezes into her next adventure and never really examines what it meant. In the end, this is a work of non-fiction and people don't always do the logical things we expect, especially when they have been traumatized by those who are supposed to protect them.If Ross was a friend of mine I would suggest she seek long-term counseling because my guess is that unless she deals with some of the loose ends she will continue to be victimized by her parents.

  • McGuffy Morris
    2019-03-25 17:57

    Tracy Ross has written a powerful memoir that will resound with many, assuredly staying with the reader. Her story is open, honest and painfully true.Losing her father when she was a very young child, Tracy felt blessed in gaining a doting stepfather not long thereafter. They become very close throughout her childhood, and all seemed right in her world. Her family was close; camping trips were commonplace. Her stepfather taught Tracy many things about the Idaho nature, wildlife, and living life to the fullest on these family outings. However, his love and affection for Tracy turned very wrong when on a camping trip her stepfather began to sexually abuse her. Tracy was eight years old.Eventually, Tracy fights back. Leaving home as a teen, she reveals the truth. This tears the family apart, finally forcing them all to face buried secrets and carefully hidden flaws. As Tracy was betrayed as a child, the family felt she now betrayed them. It takes years for them all to admit the truth.Growing up fast, Tracy goes through many changes, and encounters many situations. She learns hard-earned lessons. Tracy's lifelong love for nature and the outdoors takes her from her native Idaho to Alaska, and eventually to Colorado. It was nature that always held Tracy together, and ultimately helped her to heal.There finally comes a point where Tracy is able to confront her stepfather, as an adult. This takes immense courage, for which I admire her. In doing so, Tracy is able to come to terms with what happened to her, and that she survived.Tracy Ross's story is full of raw emotion, vulnerability, and ultimately real survival and forgiveness. This is a memoir not to be missed.

  • Mary (BookHounds)
    2019-03-09 14:46

    This is one of the best memoirs I have read this year and I read a lot of memoirs. I was truly amazed that Tracy Ross could write such a moving story of her life and the courage to publish it. It is a true story of survival and how nature can help restore the human spirit. I was enthralled with how she captured her surroundings and made minor characters come to life. Her story is one that should inspire others to overcome their own heartache.I don't know if I could survive the abuse Tracy Ross experience and in the end forgive her step father for that abuse. I think the real key was that she was brave enough to confront him in the end and comes to term with what happened. I think that helped her healing process immensely. Her retelling of how her mother responded to it seemed typical of other stories of abuse that I had heard. Her mother didn't want to hear about it nor did she believe what took place. I thought that in the long run her mother paid a high price with her own health.Her descriptions of her life and how she coped with the betrayal were perfectly related and explained how their actions caused her despair. I had a few tears when she described how she felt from the abuse. There were also some smiles as she described her joy about finding the perfect love and sharing that with two lovely boys. I wish Tracy all good things since she deserves it. I received this book at no expense from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

  • Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
    2019-03-25 16:02

    A memoir that was I excited to receive, but was disappointed as I read it. A story of abuse and forgiveness, but I had the hardest time wrapping my head around the events that happened in this woman's life. At many points I had to continue to remind myself that this was a true story and this woman exists.As a whole I enjoyed the book. I didn't understand her ability to forget and allow her parents to continue on unpunished and unaffected by the events that happened in her family. They were able to sweep everything under the rug - how?The other thing that threw me for a loop was her moving around - she moved and moved and moved. I don't know what I would have done, were I in her situation, but the constant moving would have made me go bonkers.Because I didn't understand how the family worked, I didn't care so much for the book. I respect the fact that it is a memoir and true, but I just couldn't enjoy the book. I would recommend it to those who enjoy memoirs - this one will be hard to get through at times due to the subject of the book.

  • Jenna
    2019-03-24 13:49

    I received this book as a giveaway, and it was also an Advance Reader's Edition. It was a quick and easy read. I appreciated the author's honesty and willingness to put her story out there. I found some similarities and parallels between her life and mine, and her bravery in confronting her demons was motivating.I would reccomend the book in general...the content revolves around sexual abuse, and that is a difficult subject for some people to look at directly. I know many people who never want to hear, read, or see a negative, sad, or depressing thing, ever. But if we can't confront it in a book, how can we expect children who are abused to tell us? I think the shame and the secrecy of abuse can only be helped by creating and accepting opportunities to communicate and listen to stories like this one.Glad my copy was only the ARE version. Mistakes were distracting and it could use another looksie from editing to spruce up some grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

  • Leslie
    2019-03-09 21:01

    The stepfather of Tracy Ross molested her for several years during her childhood. Then, at the age of 37 Tracy decides to confront her stepfather and force him to admit what he did to her. The confrontation is to take place on a multi-day backpacking journey into a remote area of Idaho. She writes (on page 3), “I hadn’t decided if I was going to kill him outright or just walk him to death.” I say, “You go, girl !!”

  • Susan (aka Just My Op)
    2019-03-01 20:40

    Update: I received a finished copy of the book, and although I didn't completely re-read the book, it looks like the editing errors that I found annoying have been corrected. Tracy Ross, as a young child, dearly loved her stepfather, more a real father to her than her biological father who died when she was an infant. Until, that is, he started sexually abusing her. She continued to love him, but her love was mixed with hate and confusion. And this conflict colored the rest of her life.This memoir is heartfelt and touching, and I am so sorry that Ms. Ross experienced what she did. The abuse never went to the level of rape in the technical sense, but this story proves that it doesn't have to be that violent in order to be devastating.The story starts with the adult author going on a wilderness backpacking trip with her stepfather, just the two of them, to the same place the abuse started, an attempt at understanding the past and at getting some closure. And then she tells how it all began.The story is also about conflicts and contradictions. As a child, Tracy “was a sucker for any four-legged creature” but happily went hunting with her stepfather, killing and helping gut one of the animals that she is a sucker for. I just don't get that. She also sent out mixed messages to her stepdad, which I understand is pretty common for children in this situation. She wants the abuse to stop but she also wants his love and attention. What I had more trouble understanding are the bad decisions she continued to make as an adult. And she made some really bad decisions.For someone who writes “It states in my personal rule book that I never, ever discuss anything having to do with my period, ovulation, or contraception, and I remember wishing that everyone associated with my pregnancy had been given a copy so that they could to the same,” there was way too much information about childbirth. As an adult, she continued to carry her victim mentality.As wrong as her stepfather was, I just couldn't understand her mother. She continued to put her daughter in compromising situations, such as demanding that her daughter model a new swimsuit for the stepdad, knowing that there had been abuse and knowing that her daughter was uncomfortable with doing it. Seeming to value the stepdad over the daughter. What kind of mother does things like that? Again, I just don't get that.While the story is an important one and it was certainly brave of the author to tell it, I do have some problems with it. The copy I read was an advance reader's edition so mistakes are to be expected and the quotes may be changed, but even for an ARE, it was in serious need of editing. Typos can be easily fixed, but there were places where the same sentences were repeated a paragraph or two later, and this didn't seem to be for effect. Or if it was, it wasn't successful. Also, during much of the middle of the book, I felt like I was being beat over the head about the abuse. I know about the abuse. To me, it took away from the story to explain everything with writing again that she had been abused. Sometimes, less is more.I enjoyed the Alaska stories, her treks in the mountains. I didn't like the parts about the dog mushers because that is a personal sore spot of mine. I know, first-hand as well as second, of too many abuses in the “sport,” and I just can't condone it.So...overall, this is a touching, honest, and brave book, but the writing was a bit too uneven for me to love it.Thank you to the publisher for giving me a copy of the book for review.

  • Lynn Tolson
    2019-03-08 13:04

    Review of The Source of All Things by Tracy RossA Healing JourneyThe Source of All Things by Tracy Ross is literally and figuratively a healing journey. Ross embraces the wilderness as the vehicle that transports her from victim to survivor. Along the way, Ross seeks to make sense of the child sexual abuse she experienced. There may be maps to navigate the natural world, but no directions for exploring the alien territory of abuse.In the aftermath of her biological father’s sudden death, Ross’ mother marries a man who becomes devoted to her children. At four-years-old, Tracy adores her step-father, who protects her, provides for her, and engages her in outdoor sports, hiking trails, and camping trips. By the time Tracy is eight-years-old, her step-father is also molesting her. He infiltrated a vulnerable family, and advanced on the girl like a vulture. Yet her mother is depressed and disengaged from the family unit, so many steps behind the reality of what her husband is doing that she never catches up to meet Tracy’s needs.At sixteen-years-old, Tracy is strong enough to fulfill her own need for surviving abuse and betrayals. She enters a boarding school and embarks on wilderness adventures. Sometimes these travels require risking her life. Other times, Tracy finds comforts in nature that manage her self-destructive behavior. Child sexual abuse violates boundaries, and trekking through mountain valleys and desert floors offer boundless opportunities for Tracy’s hope and healing.Chapter 21, titled “Shooting Stars (or Birth Stories) reveals to the reader how child sexual abuse may affect every area of a victim’s life, including marriage, pregnancy, birth, and parenting. There are no clear paths to healing these wounds; Tracy uses nature like others use art or music.Tracy confronts her step-father about thirty years after the sexual assaults. She takes him back to the source, where the abuse first occurred. As he admits to abusing her, she questions if she could forgive him. She writes, “Love cuts with a serrated blade, and there are shreds of my feelings that form an unbreakable bond to my parents.” This is my point of departure, where I wonder just how much compassion a survivor of child abuse has to exert for a confirmed sexual predator.This memoir is well-written and well worth reading. A victim may see that he/she is not alone in the conflicting emotions and ambivalent feelings. Ross shows great courage in telling her story to bring awareness to the absolute devastation of child sexual abuse, and the long journey of recovery.

  • Tara
    2019-02-28 21:07

    One of the best memoirs I've read!She was a toddler who lost her father, then an eight-year-old sexually abused by her stepfather, then a teenager pulled between a family’s love and their corrosive secret. Even as a precocious little girl growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho, author Tracy Ross had guts. She still does, and the former staff editor at Skiing and Backpacker magazines proves it in a chronicle of her own hardcore life lessons delivered with a combination of biting honesty and understated drama.Ross’ love of the outdoors serves as the narrative’s backbone: The wilderness exposed her as a child, helped her escape as a troubled teen, and now it frees her from the past. From Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, to Alaska’s Denali National Park, to Colorado’s high country-where today she’s settled with her own family-the rugged backdrops of Ross’ life have helped to ground her, while her time spent backpacking, hiking glaciers, and skiing untracked wilderness is what makes her tick.The Source of All Things rivals Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle in portraying a dysfunctional family with compassion and wit. Ross’ writing is sensitive and sharp, full of raw emotion and painstakingly researched detail. She will win over readers with her story of survival, keen observations of the people and places surrounding her, and an ability to recognize and capture her conflicting emotions. “The desert killed people who didn’t know how to find shade or water,” she writes, describing her work for a youth program in Utah’s Escalante Desert, before hitting hard with a painful gem of truth: “But it didn’t hate them or prey upon them, the way dads sometimes preyed on their daughters.”Like Into Thin Air, the first-person account of the 1996 tragedy on Mount Everest that helped cement Jon Krakauer’s writing career, Ross’ reflective first book will likely set her on the path toward becoming the new voice of adventure journalism. She delivers a memoir that’s both a vulnerable portrait of a childhood ripped apart and a liberating adventure story that you won’t want to put down. Long after closing the book, you’ll ponder her pain, her courage, and her strength.

  • Patricia
    2019-03-21 12:38

    I just finished this book yesterday, and definitely needed some time to...think? recover? I don't know how many emotions I ran through reading this memoir. I laughed a bit, cried, and got so angry I wanted to hunt her family down and give them a piece of my mind (not that they would've cared). This was literally an emotional rollercoaster. It's amazing how strong Tracy was/is. I felt myself in awe of how she kept pushing on through all adversity, and although sometimes she wasn't very graceful about it, she still managed. The last chapter had me completely devestated. I don't know how she kept from killing her Dad, or at least, never speaking to anyone in her immediate family again.I found myself hating the mother more than I could ever hate the father, and that's saying something. To me, the woman was so entirely pathetic and dispicable, I don't know how Tracy ever subjected herself to that woman's presence. But I guess love is a very strong factor and I couldn't help but know how much Tracy did love her parents. That love and her desire to be loved for who she was, kept her from writing off her mother and father forever.Sometimes it seems not loving at all...unwrapping that emotional chain from squeezing us to death, would make it far easier to turn away from those who have the power of hurting us the most.I never doubted Tracy's love for her father, or her mother, but I do feel that even though she may have forgiven them, she will Never forget. Trust has been irrevocably broken and a family that once had the greatest potential of being normal and happy were robbed of that chance because of parents who never deserved the gift that Tracy was.

  • Joy Martinez
    2019-03-12 17:40

    For anyone who has experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a relative, a friend, or as in my situation, a co-worker when I was 19 years old, for me, this book was a great read.It is not a dark journey through horrible descriptions of a pedophile. Instead it is a story about courage, love, betrayal and forgiveness. Tracy Ross is an incredibly strong and brave woman to go out on that limb and write a memoir about her family and the abuse she endured from the hands of her stepfather. I know how difficult it is to forgive someone for such horrific abuse.Tracy Ross' book also depicts how Social Services failed this child and her family. I believe in some parts of the US today, this is still a sad and devastating fact of life.Tracy's book has bits of humor relating to her '80's fashion style but what is most telling in this painful journey are the descriptions of her adventures with her family during outings in the woods as a child as well as her journeys around the world writing as an adult. The tenderness of her heart and her deep love of the wilderness is what helped her to escape the nightmares of her step fathers abuse. Nature and wildlife is what probably saved Tracy's life not only as a child but also as an adult. I believe it is what propels her to this place of peace as she continues to pave the path of forgiveness which is all part of the healing.I loved this book and will read it again.

  • Cheyenne Bell
    2019-03-10 15:40

    I agreed to read this book with a bit of trepidation. Generally, I don't like reading books about abuse because it disturbs and depresses me. Sure, I know it happens to people and I think it's horrid, but I don't necessarily want to read about it. However, what made me want to read this book despite the disturbing topic was how the author used the healing power of nature to pull herself out of darkness and despair. Being a nature lover and a believer of the holiness of unspoiled wilderness, I wanted to know more about Tracy's journey and how the wilderness helped her through it.And, boy, am I glad I decided to read The Source of All Things! Yes, Tracy's recounting of her horrible abuse was disturbing and hard to read. So, too, was her decline into a world of self-hatred and self-medicating with drugs and danger. But it was also a wonder to witness how she utilized the calming, quiet, beautiful, and intense power of raw wilderness to rescue herself from the damage that her father had created in her and the further destruction she was causing within herself. It takes a strong woman to fight the demons born from abuse and neglect, and Tracy Ross is certainly that.I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a true story of strength and redemption. Of love and forgiveness. Of healing and letting go. Of moving on and making amends. Of the healing power of nature and of one woman's ability to endure and survive.

  • Soo Na
    2019-03-04 16:06

    I wanted to like the book. The cover, and poetic title, were certainly subjectively likeable enough. The writing never flowed for me. I didn't get a good sense of the narrator, and it was hard to get past what felt like a scarcity of language, not of indulgence or divulgence, not a spare economy of language, but simply that the book never gained traction nor momentum.Everything seemed built, cobbled together, around the recorded conversation between woman and man, stepdaughter and stepfather. I wanted to sink into the story. I had nowhere deeper to bury into as a reader. This rendered the reading experience dissatisfying for me. At the end of the book, which was an admittedly quick read, I wanted to feel bigger, as though I'd learned something, gotten some insight into myself by proxy. For me, the book didn't do that "quick pop to a different layer"—to quote Marge Piercy—that I was hoping for. Something deeper. Perhaps that's the triumph of Tracy Ross: that nothing spills or leaks out, when you touch the surface, apply slight pressure. It is a solid thing, and there is no moss growing on it, no lichens, nothing to distort. Like the clarity of a sunrise, or the way that the coolness of unmuddied, not quite dry but not damp morning air disabuses you of any notion that you are in fact anything other than "tiny human". Decidedly "normal", whatever that means.

  • Tania
    2019-03-08 12:47

    This book was very moving. Throughout it Tracy tells of her struggles with the sexual abuse her step-father who she sees as her father put her through. However she is in a struggle because she feels like he is a hero from the days before the abuse but a disgusting beast after that she still loves. There are times when I feel she is being to hard on him, yet I put myself in her place and completely understand her position. Tracy runs away at the age of 14 to escape the abuse and essentially continues to run the rest of her life until she marries and has kids with her second husband Shawn. Years after her second son is born and after a bought with depression yet again, she chooses to face her father and ask him for an explanation.This face to face takes place at the place where the abuse started. Unfortunately for Tracy, she finds out more about the abuse than she wanted like a.) it happened more than she thought and b.) not only did her father sexually abuse her, but also drugged her to commit the act. In the end, she don't fully find closure. The book I do believe may have brought Tracy some closure in being able to tell the world what happened to her. Very brave!!

  • Alex Templeton
    2019-03-03 21:03

    Despite reading positive reviews of this book in more than one place, I put off putting it on my to-read list. Oh, I thought, it'll just be another one of those memoirs about redemption from a crappy childhood, and why do I read so many of those, anyway? Well, the reason why I read them is, when done well, they're definitely worth the time. I know a lot of people (probably myself included) whine that anyone who has ever had anything bad happen to them writes a book about it, and who cares after awhile. "The Source of All Things", which is about Ross' recovery from and investigation into her childhood sexual abuse by her stepfather, reminds me why these books should make us care. Ross is devastatingly honest in describing her experience and her emotions--I imagine that this book would give fellow survivors solace, a sense that they are not alone in their experience. Here is the purpose of the memoir, and the reason I and we read them: they let us know that we are not alone in whatever struggles we have and need to overcome, and they offer us hope of resilience. This might sound all crunchy-granola, but whatever. Part of my soul requires crunch-granola sentiment sometimes, and I bet yours does, too. This memoir--one of the finer ones I've read--provides it.

  • Glenda
    2019-03-23 16:52

    Tracy Ross confronts her step-father while hiking in Redfish Lake, Idaho, with a tape recorder, demanding a confession. The crime: her own sexual abuse by the very man she had cared for and loved since she was a little girl. The Source of All Things is a memoir about Tracy's struggle to understand the childhood abuse she suffered at the hands of her step-father and how she finds salvation in the raw, natural world.Ross is an incredibly strong woman to be able to tell such a personal and painful story. She does a great job of letting the reader know what it is like in the mind of someone who has been abused and how it can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Her mother failed to protect her, the system failed to protect her, and ultimately she is able to forgive.This is a story of the resiliency of the human spirit, our capacity to love, and ultimately, our ability to forgive. I received a copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaway. It was also an ARC that had several repeated paragraphs, typos, and other errors. 3.5 stars

  • Calla Rose
    2019-03-13 21:01

    I received this book pre-release via goodreads...always excited to get a book in the mail I dove in immediately. I will say this is not a book you can read in one sitting. It delves very much into the difficult world of sexual abuse, however, the author's quest (and sometimes need) to seek healing in peace in nature was so honest and well written. I was really glad she didn't try to make everything seem okay. She was really honest about her struggles as a result of the abuse, even the unexpected ones. If the book had ended as...we talked, I have forgiven you, now everything is perfect again...I would have really disliked it. Although it would be nice, any person who has experienced any kind of abuse knows, you will always have something to work though. The means in which she accomplished this was the inspiring part of this book. She didn't turn to any alcohol, drugs, etc as so many do. I would recommend this book to a friend and commend the author on such an honest and well written account of her journey thus far.

  • Jennifer Cepero
    2019-02-25 14:05

    I won this book in a giveaway. I think this story is definitely something that needs to be heard by people. Some people think sexual abuse is only when there is the actual act of sex involved. This story begs to differ. I completely agree. Just the touching and who knows what else this "father" did to his daughter is horrifying. I feel for Tracy. I am happy that she confronted him and got what she needed to know about what happened. I am also glad she doesn't see her parents anymore. It might seem mean, but after abust like that it makes it VERY hard to be around that person without wanting to punch them or spit on them or something. The fact that her father drugged her so she wouldn't wake up while he was molesting her is terrible. I hope she is able to cope now that she knows what happened.

  • Kathy Hiester
    2019-03-22 15:47

    I received this book as an advance reading copy from Free Press and let me state that it is definitely five stars.Tracy was molested but never penetrated by her stepfather from the time she was eight until she was fifteenish. The memoir takes you through her trials an tribulations. Tracy talks about how she was not given the proper tools and how to this day she doesn't trust her "daddy" around her sons. She gets up the nerve to try and confront her stepfather on a hiking trip for just the two of them only to find out that she was molested more than she knew because her "daddy" drugged her with sleeping.The story is not just a memoir but also sad tale of what really happens in many child welfare agencies. 5 stars

  • Dale Stonehouse
    2019-02-23 18:42

    As sexual/drug/alcohol abuse memoirs go, this book stands out, not so much because it is better or worse than others, but because the author's approach is very different. She vaguely remembers the beginning of being abused by her (step)father at age 8, but has only fuzzy impressions of the abuse into her teen years. The reason for that is a major surprise (and spoiler) which the reader cannot see coming. She weaves tales of her shared love of nature with her father and her struggle to make a relationship with her parents, finally confronting her father in a climactic return trip to a favorite camping site. This book gets 4 stars mainly in appreciation of the effort it must have taken to dredge up and confront memories no one wants.

  • Sherrie
    2019-03-25 19:41

    This was a very hard book to read as I saw what was happening to Tracy. It was also a very moving book. Traveling the path to recovery with Tracy. The confrontation of her father is very hard but Tracy does it to get her healing started. Few survivors are able to find the support and the courage to heal. But Tracy does that beautifully with this book. There were some times when I was reading this book that I wanted to cry and other times when I smiled. Tracy takes you along with her as she finds the way to her recovery. Does she recover? Does she get all her questions answered? You'll have to read the book to find out.

  • Sandra Stiles
    2019-03-05 15:02

    Forgiveness is often the hardest thing to do, yet it is also one of the most liberating things. Forgiving the man who sexually abused you is almost unheard of. Tracy Ross has written a heart-wrenching story that takes us into the darkest part of her life. Through her eyes we are shown her life, her pain and her survival. Her first outdoor experiences with her step-father are the experiences she retreats to as she begins to explore and try to understand the situation. The outdoors is her safe haven. This is a recommended read for anyone and everyone concerned with the abuses that go on around them.

  • KWinks
    2019-03-20 15:01

    I found about this one from Whole Living Magazine. It was really wonderful. Tracy Ross writes like she is sitting at the kitchen table with you and is just telling you her story. I could not put it down. She is so brave and I loved reading how she rescued herself from a really bad situation. It made me wish I was more connected to nature. Does drinking half the world's supply of coffee count?Highly recommended for fans of The Glass Castle, Fierce: A Memoir, and The Girl's Guide to Homelessness. Book clubs should be reading this right now.

  • Beth
    2019-03-22 14:07

    Ok, so I checked three stars. But that is for the descriptions of Twin Fall Idaho, Stanley, and Red Fish Lake. She discusses areas I know rather well, and it was like a step back in time. However, I obviously was distressed at the subject matter. Memoirs are always tricky, as I'm never sure if the "bad event" in the child's life is abuse. In this case it was and it was hard for me to read the end. I read the entire book in one sitting in the Roanoke library.