In 1977, Yale students Terri Jentz and her roommate Shayna decided to set out on a cross-country bike trip. A few days into the trip, the two were camping in Cline Falls, Oregon when a man intentionally ran over their tent, got out of his truck, and attacked them with an axe. In the middle of the attack, without a word, he got back into his truck and drove off. Remarkably, both girls survived the attack. Terri remembers with pin-point accuracy every detail of that night. Shayna, however, due to the blows to the back of her head, remembers nothing.
Years later, Terri realized their story had faded from the headlines, and no one was ever caught. In an effort to deal with the trauma, depression and rage she carried, and to seek justice, she decided to return to Oregon. 'Strange Piece of Paradise' follows Terri's journey back to the sleepy town, where she discovers that the crime was still fresh in people's minds even twenty years later.
I hesitated to blog about this book. It's graphic, raw and truly disturbing. It took me three weeks to get through it because I couldn't read it at night, and often would have to put it down for a break from the brutality. This book is not a feel good read by any means- I mean, could there really be a happy ending to a story as horrific as this? However, I feel it's a story that merits recommendation because it explores the different ways in which we deal with trauma, how fear can be an epidemic, and how one 15 minute event can affect the soul of a town so deeply. Equally important, it discusses violence toward women, drug and alcohol abuse, and victims' rights. A lot of heavy subject matter, yes, but I truly feel that being aware of these issues rather than ignoring what disturbs us is vital to progression.