Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz

BOB, it's a Nonfiction book!!! You can read my blog today.

When Terri Jentz was college, she and her roommate, Shayna, decided to take a bike trip cross-country. As the two were sleeping in their tent at Cline Falls State Park in Oregon a pickup truck ran over their tent and a man proceeded to hack them with a hatchet. Amazingly, at the last minute, the madman decided not to kill them and drove away. Terri recounts running to the road, flagging down a teenage couple, loading up Shayna, who was near death and rushing to the nearest emergency room. Because the madman was never caught, Terri remained haunted by the attack and eventually she went back to the scene of the crime and started her own investigation into the events of that night during the summer of 1977.

Terri does a magnificent job of telling her story in an emotionally compelling way. At various points as she is telling about the attack I had to stop reading because I felt physically ill. (No, really, this is a good thing in a memoir about a violent crime.) She gave her story an immediacy and urgency that moved the story along at a brisk pace for the majority of the book. I particularly liked the connections she develops with people she meets during the course of the investigation. While I am sure she would say that being a victim was not a good thing, the resulting investigation brought profound friendships into her life.

There were a few places that were repetitive and the pace slowed but I think this was due to the fact that she was describing an investigation, which I understand can be repetitious and tedious. Otherwise, it was an excellent and well thought out tale.

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