The title (and greenery-soaked cover) of Julie Riddle’s new memoir, The Solace of Stones: Finding a Way through Wilderness, suggest a New Age, contemporary take on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; and because Americans tend to romanticize the natural world’s power to heal, one might approach the book with hopes of having this idea confirmed.
But The Solace of Stones almost immediately punctures that expectation by revealing that Riddle, despite spending her childhood days playing in the unpopulated woods of Montana, spent two decades unable to name, understand, or escape the emotional fallout from a sexual trauma she experienced at age five. Her family, meanwhile, unaware of the incident, jumped feet-first into her parents’ dream of building a log house in the untamed wilderness of northwestern Montana.
Readers journey with Riddle’s family to realize this way-tougher-than-it-sounds fantasy, inspired by a book titled How to Live in the Woods on Pennies a Day. We learn about the intensive labor and time that goes into building a log house, including the first step: constructing a basement that will be the family’s underground home for three years while the rest of the house gradually takes shape. READ THE REST HERE