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The Source of All Things

The Source of All Things

A Memoir

  • reading group guide
Called “brave and heartbreaking” by Elle and “an extraordinary journey” by People, Tracy Ross’s riveting memoir about abuse, survival, and healing is now available in paperback.

Tracy Ross’s adult life has been defined by her determination to push herself to the physical limits of what a person can endure. In The Source of All Things, she struggles to reconcile her stepfather’s abuse with her desire to make her family whole again.

Tracy’s stepfather first molested her when she was eight years old. But he was also her family’s savior—the man who rescued her mother from deep depression and the protective figure who instilled in her the very passion for nature that saved her life. It wasn’t until she ran away from home at fourteen that her family was forced to confront the abuse that tore them apart. 

The Source of All Things is a powerful, breathtakingly honest story about a mistake that has taken three decades and thousands of miles of raw wilderness to reconcile. Unfolding in the achingly gorgeous landscapes of Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska, Tracy describes her search for a place in which to heal, the sacredness of the outdoors, and the ways in which nature, at its most wild and challenging, gave her the strength to overcome.
Choose a format:
  • Free Press | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439172988 | 
  • February 2012
List Price $19.99
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Tracy Ross' THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS

Author Tracy Ross reveals her powerful memoir about the struggle to come to terms with her childhood abuse at the hands of her stepfather.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

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. This is a story of the resiliency of the human spirit, our capacity to love, and ultimately, our ability to forgive.

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

1. The role of a “father figure” in Tracy’s life has always been missing: “How long have I been searching for a father? Nearly as long as I have breathed air.” (p. 10) How has this void affected Tracy’s life from the start?

2. Donnie comes into the Ross family with “the kind of light only a man in need of a new family can shine.” (p. 24) Everything, at first, is perfect. He loves nature, teaches Tracy about the grandeur and beauty of the wilderness, and is exactly what this slightly battered family needed. But soon, strange traits in his parenting style appear. The day before she turns seven, Tracy believes her birthday will not be complete without first losing a tooth. Donnie agrees to help and actually tries to take out her tooth with pliers. What, already, does this say about Donnie as a parent?
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About the Author

Tracy Ross
Julia Vandenoever

Tracy Ross

Tracy Ross is an award-winning journalist and contributing editor at Backpacker Magazine, an ASME award–winning outdoor publication with 1.2 million readers. She has been published in the U.S., England, South Africa, and Australia. Her essay“The Source of All Things” has won the National Magazine Award in 2009 and has been selected for inclusion in TheBest American Sports Writing and TheBest American Magazine Writing. Her Skiing magazine story “Our Country Comes Skiing in Peace” received a notable mention in Best American Travel Writing, and her work has also appeared in Outside and Women’s Sports Illustrated.  Ross’s assignments have taken her to the wilds of Alaska, the ski slopes of Iran, and the most remote reaches of Ecuador. She writes about exotic places and intriguing people, but mainly about the wilderness and how it intersects with the most important issues in our lives. She lives with her family at 8,000 feet in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado.

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