TRACY ROSS, whose National Magazine Award–winning article for Backpacker was the genesis of her memoir The Source of All Things (Free Press; March 8), had a secret—the kind most people would cope with via years of therapy, if they coped with it at all. Ross, whose Idaho childhood was marred by sexual abuse from her stepfather, turns to her first love—the wilderness. This isn’t healing on the couch of Dr. Phil. Ross lets us ride shotgun as she loses herself in the wilds of Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and, well, Seattle, with a stint at Cornish College of the Arts. (Choice Seattle line: “Maybe it was the constant rain or the fact that I’d once again started dabbling in hallucinogens, but in Seattle, I’d also fallen back into depression.”) We also join her most harrowing trek of all: a weeklong backpacking trip during which she, at the age of 35, confronts her stepfather with four questions, “loaded, hot and explosive, like shells in a .30-30.”

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