Library Journal Review
When Christopher Knight was 20 years old, he quit his job, drove into rural Maine, left his car on the side of the road, and simply walked into the woods. That was 1986. In 2013, after 27 years of living as a hermit, he was arrested while breaking into a building to get food. Finkel (True Story: Murder, Memoir, and Mea Culpa) covers Knight's nearly three decades of living entirely outdoors in the Maine woods. To survive, Knight broke into nearby cabins more than 1,000 times and stole what he needed, including food, beverages, and propane. The book examines the history of solitude and hermits worldwide, including the benefits and severe effects of living alone. The trial of Knight is brief, and the aftermath creates great tension for the listener. Mark Bramhall narrates with his usual talent. His reading of quotes from Knight, who has a slow, gravelly New England accent, brings the listener fully into both the story and the freezing environment. VERDICT Fans of Finkel and anyone who has ever thought about walking away from life and living as a hermit will find a wealth of entertaining knowledge here. Highly recommended. ["With inevitable comparisons to Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, this book will appeal to recreational readers interested in outdoor adventure, survival stories, or escaping the mainstream": LJ 11/15/16 review of the Knopf hc.]-Jason L. Steagall, Gateway Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
On a summer morning in 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight didn't show up for his job installing alarm systems in Waltham, Mass. Nearly three decades passed before he reappeared and revealed he'd spent most of that time camping in the woods of central Maine. In this fascinating account of Knight's renunciation of humanity, Finkel (True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa) struggles to comprehend the impulses that led Knight to court death by hypothermia even though his family home was less than an hour's drive away. To survive, Knight relentlessly pilfered supplies from vacation houses around his campsite, infuriating and terrifying homeowners and baffling a generation of cops. Finally apprehended during one of his raids, the "Hermit of North Pond" battled depression and contemplated suicide as he was forced to rejoin society. Drawn by the details that followed Knight's arrest, Finkel reached out to him through letters and visits. Despite frequent rebuffs, enough of a relationship developed for Finkel to broadly outline Knight's wilderness solitude. A fellow outdoorsman, Finkel places Knight in the long tradition of hermits, a category that has been admired and distrusted over the centuries. Yet even as Finkel immerses himself in Knight's life-researching hermits, consulting psychologists, even camping at Knight's hideaway-his subject's motivations remain obscure, leaving the book somehow incomplete. The book doesn't penetrate the mystery of Knight's renunciation, but the questions it raises remain deeply compelling. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Christopher Knight lived for 27 years in the woods of Maine with almost no human interaction, surviving by pilfering food and supplies. Opening with the account of how Knight was captured by an ex-marine after stealing from a local camp, this book begins on an exciting note, though the pace slows as Finkel weaves in research about the science of isolation along with an exploration of the philosophical and nature writing that might lead someone like Knight to seek seclusion. An extension of Finkel's 2014 GQ article "The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit," this title goes into detail about the lengths to which Knight went in order to stay alive. Teens who are drawn to survival stories will appreciate reading about the harsh conditions Knight faced, including freezing weather, isolation, and lack of food, and the problem-solving skills on which he had to rely. This introspective look at the hermit life throughout time focuses on the ethical issues involved in one man's attempt to break free of society. VERDICT Hand this volume to mature and thoughtful teens who love Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild or are interested in philosophy, science, or nature.-Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.