Irene O’Garden – How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood

Noted writer Irene O’Garden grew up in what seemed like the perfect American Midwestern family. Behind the scenes, however, it was anything but. In Risking the Rapids (Mango Publishing January 31, 2019), O’Garden’s revelatory account tells us of shocking cruelty, narcissism, neglect and the damage done to children of alcoholics. From her traumatic girlhood to her healing wilderness journey at age 62, O’Garden’s writing will grip you and hold you fast to this extraordinary story. An Interview with Irene O’Garden – How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood     Risking the Rapids opens with the shocking death of O’Garden’s problematic older brother in 2014. His early passing prompted her and other family members to seek emotional closure with him and their family past by journeying through the remotest area in the lower forty-eight, Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. What was described as a genial river “float” became a harrowing whitewater experience? That chronicle is woven with the story of her upbringing in a repressed mid-century Midwest Catholic household with six other siblings, a TV personality father, an icy mother, and rivers of martinis. And surprising love. It’s the kind of absorbing literary journey readers relish.   OMTIMES: What did you take away from the river ride? Irene O’Garden: Like family, wilderness requires participation and cooperation. The reward of both is a feeling of communion. While I certainly felt a powerful sense of accomplishment, I cherish this trip for how it strengthened family bonds not only with my blood relatives but with our larger family of living things that only wilderness can reveal.   OMTIMES: How do you describe your childhood? Irene O’Garden: I was born in the middle. In the middle of seven children, in a mid-size city in the middle of the country, in the middle class, in the middle of the twentieth…

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